Saint Francis Xavier church in Petoskey, Michigan before its renovation
And the necessity of authentic catholic education
(The following is based on a speech given by Trevor Fernandes, a member of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars)
The Roman Catholic Church in the United States of America is presently undergoing an internal crisis on a continental scale. If polled, most people will say it is a shortage of priests. Still others will insist it is a lack of belief in the Real Presence of Our Blessed Lord in the Most Holy Eucharist. Some will assert that it is all about celibacy or women's ordination. Many will say it stems from birth control and artificial contraception, or divorce and remarriage, or both. And many, across this country and around the world, will opine that it has been the ruination of the Liturgy of the Mass and the wanton destruction of Catholic Art since the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. There is truth and falsity in all of the above opinions. Yet there is no denying that there is a crisis, that there has been a decline, that we Catholics have some serious problems to work out. What is the root source of these problems, and what can we do about it? There is no doubt that the root source is a lack of the supernatural virtue of Faith, and all these problems (with which we are so familiar) are intrinsic denials of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith. It is as simple as that. And O! How difficult a saying!
Many of you, I suppose, were expecting an introductory outburst against the "renovation" of Saint Francis Xavier Church here in Petoskey, Michigan. All in due time. Instead, we must use this sad occurrence in the Diocese of Gaylord, Michigan; to illustrate what is happening in the Church here in America, and what we can do in the aftermath of such incomprehensible destruction, or desecration.
We will approach the issue in four main points: First, we will look at the old Temple in Jerusalem, its layout, its purpose, and its architectural theology. Second, we shall look at a traditional Catholic church design, Roman and Byzantine, to see how well it corresponds with this Biblical model, and how the churches built or renovated during and after the 16th century Protestant Revolt reflect their heretical theology in their architecture. In addition, we shall juxtapose aspects of the newly re-dedicated St. Francis Xavier church building to demonstrate that it too is theologically deficient in its architecture. Third, we shall examine how the physical layout, design, and artistry of a church have a profound theological and psychological effect on worshippers. Fourth, we will define "desecration" and its effects. For the moment, Webster's defines desecration as the "the violation of the sanctity of something, to treat profanely, irreverently or outrageously." Finally, we will examine practical solutions for situations when the ruination has already occurred, i.e. as at Saint Francis Xavier Church.
II. RAGS TO RICHES, RICHES TO ASHES, ASHES TO RICHES, AND RICHES TO RAGS: THE RISE AND FALL OF CATHOLIC CHURCHES THROUGH THE PSYCHOLOGY OF DESECRATION.
A. The Temple in Jerusalem in the time before and after the coming of Christ.
Now as we know from Sacred Scripture and from history, the Jews built a Temple to the one, true God in the city of Jerusalem. This Temple, situated on top of a hill (now called the Temple Mount) dramatically rose over the city. The rams' horns blown continuously night and day told the people and the world that sacrifices of lambs, doves, sheep and cattle were offered daily and nightly to Almighty God at the hands of the Jewish priests, in the hopes that these might be pleasing to God and that He might save His people, Israel.
The people who worshipped there heard the solemn Hebrew chants of their forefathers, smelled the incense, received counsel and guidance from the elders of the people, atoned for sins, saw the towering columns of wood and gold, and knew above all else, that God truly dwelt there in the Holy of Holies around the Ark of the Covenant, where only the High Priest went once a year to offer sacrifice on behalf of the whole people to atone for their sins. Let us take a look at the physical layout of this Temple to demonstrate how its design/artistry corresponds directly to the theology of the Hebrew faith.
The Courts. Let us note how the Temple was divided into various "courts" not in the modern sense of a place where judges and attorneys work; rather, these were large courtyards that each served a distinct purpose and had a theological meaning: the outermost courtyard was the Court of the Gentiles, a vast space where Roman and Greek coins were exchanged for shekels by the infamous money-changers, the old Hebrew currency that was the only that one could buy animals for Temple sacrifice, etc. Thus animals, etc. were sold there (sheep, goats, lambs, doves) as well. And if this were not enough, there was a steady stream of humanity passing in and out of this space: devout Jews of all classes, who alone were allowed beyond this Court as well as Gentiles, who were permitted in the Temple only to this point. Until 70 AD, even the Romans respected this stricture.
The next Court was the Court of Women. Men passed through this Court to reach the Court of Men. We are not used to men and women being separated at divine worship but this was not just a custom for them, but served a practical purpose: women were the primary caregivers for children and needed space for them, as well as women nursing infants, etc. This Court afforded them privacy and dignity without the prying eyes of men. Furthermore, young boys and juvenile males could easily be passed through the gate to husbands. Could women see? Yes, there were raised galleries along the inner Temple Wall to allow them to view the sacrifices and participate in Temple worship.
The Court of Men was rather small by comparison. Men packed in to offer prayers and the animal offerings to the Levites (who had their own space, the Court of Levites), who took the animals to the sacrificing priests at the fiery Altar. The Final Court was the Court of Priests; the priests prayed there, offered sacrifices, rested and meditated on the Scriptures and the Law of Moses. Here the Great Altar was located, where around the clock sacrifices and prayers were offered for a variety of things: good childbirth, favorable weather for travelers or crops, deliverance from the enemies of Israel, the coming of the Messiah.
- The Sanctuary of the Temple. Beyond the Altar was the Sanctuary, or the Holy Place. This was the threshold of the innermost part of the Temple, the Holy of Holies. The High Priest would ascend the steps to this area once a year and stand looking at the "Veil of the Temple", the Sanctuary Curtain, which hid the Holy of Holies from view, and was heavy with cloth, gold, precious gems, etc. Many lamps burned outside, indicating the Presence.
- The Holy of Holies. This was the innermost chamber of the Temple and surrounded by the highest and thickest walls. Here, the Ark of the Covenant was kept which held the Books of the Law (the Pentateuch) and manna preserved from the desert. Here the actual Presence of God dwelt, in cloud by day, and in fire by night. But because of the invasions, destruction of the Temple on prior occasions, etc., at the time of Our Blessed Lord the Ark was long gone. Significantly God's Presence was no longer there in visible ways. The Holy of Holies was empty.
Theology. The Jews looked at eternity hierarchically: the Lord God was in Heaven, then came Man, His highest creation, after which followed the animals, the elements, etc., of which humanity is the steward. And of men, God singled out the Jewish people as His Chosen, for salvation. He made a Covenant with them, embodied as it were in the Tablets of the Ten Commandments. He promised them He would always be faithful, and so He was. It was Israel that was a faithless Bride, who had need of constant repentance and reparation. Thus, to build God a worthy, permanent dwelling place was the dream of King David and realized by his son, King Solomon the Wise. This was the Temple. God's Law had set aside people to be the Priests, Aaron the brother of Moses, and his people. The other Tribes formed circles of unity around the Ark of the Covenant, where God truly dwelt with His People. Outside of the Hebrew Covenant was the Gentile world, which had the horrors of idolatry, paganism, apostasy, and active homosexuality-in short, separation from God.
The Temple reflects this theological truth: the Holy of Holies containing the Presence, was housed fittingly in the tallest, most visible, and beautiful part of the Temple. It was veiled from view by the Sanctuary Curtain (in the desert this had been a tent) for who shall look at the face of God and live? In fact, as only the High Priest could enter, his attendants tied a rope around his waist so that if he died, they could pull out his body. The Holy Place or Sanctuary was the space where only the Priests dared stand to assist the High Priest.
The Priests were separated from the laypeople not out of patriarchal smugness, but because it was only their hands that offered the sacrifice; the Court of Priests was fitting for them. Then came the Court of Levites and the Court of Men; the Sanhedrin, which condemned the Lord Jesus, met in a Chamber adjoining both these Courts. Then, as we discussed above, was the Court of Women and finally the Court of the Gentiles for the unbelievers. It was a hierarchy that reflects God's plan in terms of the Old Law, and there is nothing unjust about
B. Catholic Church design, from the Early Church to the Present.
Lets us dive right in to the Early Church. Much talk is made nowadays by Modernist "reformers" of returning to the "early Church" with the "Lord's Supper" being the "community" "gathered" around the "Table." The implication is that this was the principal way in which Christians worshipped. However, the Bible itself tells us this is untrue. Saint Peter, the other Apostles and Christians still went to the Temple for Divine Worship, accepting its architectural theology as mirroring a Heavenly reality with two exceptions: on Sunday (the Day of Christ's Resurrection) the Church gathered at homes (due to local persecution) for the "breaking of the Bread," which was the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and St. Paul in the Epistle to the Hebrews made them realize that Christ is the Eternal High Priest and that there was no need for Temple worship or the Old Law as they had the New Testament from the Messiah Himself and He was the perfect, living Sacrifice Himself. Thus, the Catholic Church slowly withdrew from the physical Temple, which was destroyed in 70 AD by Titus on orders from Rome; however, the Church in Her wisdom never forgot the design of the Temple.
Now we know that the Church was persecuted for two centuries following the Ascension of the Lord and Pentecost. But when Christianity became the state Religion under the Roman Emperor Constantine, he gave the Lateran Palace to the Holy Father at that time. This became the Pope's cathedral, the Lateran Basilica of St. John (the Baptist), Saint Savior as it has been called. It says on the magnificent fašade that it is the "Mater et caput omnium Ecclesiarum," the "Mother and Head of all Churches" because it is the Cathedral of Rome. This "basilica" became the model in design and purpose for the other "stational" churches of Rome and for churches that spread throughout the Empire.
Here is the basic design of these early Catholic churches: the concept of a Gothic "keystone" arch had not been developed, so walls were high and thick, with rounded windows that were narrow and did not give off much light. At the West end was a Narthex/vestibule/church porch that served as entry point for believers, and the threshold between them and the pagan world. At the East end was the Altar, freestanding, under a canopy or baldachino, behind which was the Bishop's cathedra or Throne/Chair. This area was known as the Holy Place or Sanctuary and only the Bishop, priests, deacons, subdeacons, acolytes and sacred ministers entered this area. In the center was the Altar of Sacrifice. The large area of the church building had no pews, so the people stood. However, at crucial points of the Mass, they would fall flat upon their faces. The chants were based on the old melodies of the Hebrew Temple and were Greek in the East; in the West they were in Latin, the forerunners of Gregorian chant. Men and women worshipped separately, on either side of the aisle. Priest and people faced East for Divine Worship.
Wait a minute! In some basilicas, including St. Peter's in Rome, the priest "faced the people." We should conform to this true pattern of Catholic design and worship. Right? Wrong. What the "reformers" choose not to tell you, is that this occurred when the church building happened to face West, not East. At the Canon (Eucharistic Prayer/anaphora) of the Mass, the people, who were facing the priest, turned around and looked out the front door; thus priest and people still faced East. In addition, very often a huge curtain (purple in Lent and usually red signifying Christ's Kingship and His Precious Blood) was drawn across the entire Sanctuary, veiling the Consecration from view. The people prostrated themselves, flat on their faces at this time. This historical reality completely debunks the current false history of the Liturgy and Church during the early times. It demonstrates the continuity of the design of the Temple as architecturally mirroring a theological reality.
Historically since those early times, the pattern has seldom wavered:
The Eastern/Byzantine Churches. These churches, Byzantine Catholic, Orthodox, and Lesser Eastern Christians, follow the same design as the early churches: a Sanctuary separated from the people by an iconostasis, or icon screen, covered with paintings (icons) of Christ, Mary (the Theotokos, or Mother of God) and the Saints, and a red curtain that is drawn over the visible doors to this screen during the Eucharistic Prayer, like the Veil of the Temple. Only the priest and sacred ministers may enter this area, and women are forbidden, not out of sexism as some would have you believe, but to preserve the hierarchical nature of the Church's Liturgy in terms of function: women cannot be priests or deacons.
In the sanctuary behind the iconostasis is the freestanding altar with candles on it and a Crucifix icon in the middle. A Tabernacle (artrophorion) is on the Altar of Sacrifice, which has the relics of the Martyrs placed upon it. The priest and people face the same direction, i.e. liturgical East toward the Tabernacle, the Holy of Holies, where the Presence of God truly dwells in the Blessed Sacrament. High above is the Sanctuary Lamp to show all who enter the church that Christ is physically present in that holy place. Behind the Altar is the Bishop's chair against the apse, or curved Eastern Wall.
The ambo/pulpit is outside the Sanctuary on the threshold so that people may hear the Word and sermons. There is chant, incense, bells, prostrations-the very image of the ancient Jewish Temple, except with Christ as Lord and Master of the World. Stained glass windows portray images of the Saints, Mary and Jesus. The narthex is the threshold to and from the pagan world of the United States. The architecture mirrors the theology of the Catholic Faith and is glorious to behold!
The Western/Roman Church. In the West, the "basilican arrangement" continued for a time, but more and more, the emphasis was on some visibility of the Mass. With the custom in the West of kneeling rather than prostrating, eventually kneelers came into vogue (far in the future). A similar set-up occurred: vestibule, nave (for men and women), Sanctuary (eventually visibly contained by an Altar Rail at which people knelt to receive Holy Communion or to pray, etc.), and the Altar, increasingly against the East Wall (or liturgically East wall), with gradines or "shelves" behind it upon which to put flowers, extra candles, etc. Over time this grew into the standard "reredos" or elaborate backdrop towering above the Altar itself. The Tabernacle is upon the Altar, with Crucifix above/behind it. Priest and people face East together, as in the Eastern Churches and in the ancient Temple. High above the Sanctuary is the Sanctuary Lamp, indicating the Real Presence. Only priests and sacred ministers may enter the Sanctuary.
The Altar itself has the relics of martyrs placed into its tabletop, or mensa. Increasingly, it was raised on at least three steps. This served to allow all to see the Altar and as place where the various ministers should stand. Thus, like the High Priest of old, the Catholic Priest enters the Sanctuary and ascends the steps to the footpace (predella), the Holy Place, and offers the Divine Sacrifice to God for both the living and the dead, facing the Holy of Holies (the Tabernacle) where Christ is truly present. Accordingly, the Tabernacle, which is Latin for "tent", should always be veiled like the Ark of the Covenant. The Latin word for Tabernacle Veil, conopaeum, literally means "covering", like the Tent of the Ark in the desert. As you well know, Catholic churches of the West are filled with beautiful art, statues, paintings, etc. to reflect that we are foretasting the Liturgy of Heaven, of the New and Eternal Jerusalem. The liturgical counterpart to traditional Catholic architecture in the West is the Traditional Latin Mass.
Theologically, Roman Catholic and Eastern Catholic churches have been consistently built in accord with ancient traditions, based on the Temple's design, and which have been made holy by the actions of the Saints for two millennia. Our churches mirror architecturally exactly what we believe as Catholics. As we shall see, changing the church's physical layout is a destruction of Catholic belief.
The Protestant Revolution. We do not have time to go into the teachings of Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley or any other of the Protestant heretics of the 16th century. Briefly, however, they all shared hatred of the Mass and of the priesthood. They denied that there were seven Sacraments and generally kept two: Baptism (which most denied removed Original Sin) and "the Lord's Supper" which was a meal, to be celebrated communally at a Table, and was not a Sacrifice. One could not pray to Mary and the Saints, or for the Dead in Purgatory. Thus, on a massive scale, the destruction of art and architecture began. Why? If you remove something, within a generation it will be out of sight and out of mind. They wanted the theology of the people to change through visual absence and substitute a new religion, a false faith that was no longer Catholic. Altars imply sacrifice and were smashed, the relics burnt and the marble/stone tops imbedded in the ground at the entrance to the vestibule so that people would have to walk over what they once believed was so holy. Jesus is in Heaven, not in "magical" bread, and so tabernacles were destroyed with the Sacred Hosts fed to pigs and horses.
Side-altars were destroyed for the same reasons, and statues were smashed or defaced as idolatrous. Sanctuary lamps were removed. Chant was done away with, the ancient prayers mutilated, the Mass abolished by law. The Communion Service was now in an empty "sanctuary" on a plain table to illustrate the new, heretical theology, which had nothing in common with the Early Church or history. It was a complete break with Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.
Over time, the people who resisted went into exile, were executed for treason (!), went underground, or conformed. Within three generations, the Catholic Faith was forgotten. Oh, the worshippers might still go every Sunday to Saint Anne's Church, sing songs (in the vernacular only), hear the Word, hear a sermon, and maybe receive "communion," but their ministers were not priests and did not believe in the Real Presence. There were no statues of the Saints or Mary. After all, this was not a "sacred space" as the Holy of Holies is in Heaven, so one did not need a foretaste in our earthly Liturgy. Over time, neither did the people who had apostasized without even knowing it. Since the church building had been stripped of "churchy things" it could now be used for concerts, meetings, plays, etc. It became common as the world outside. The Catholic Faith was abolished through architectural change. Sound familiar? We are getting to the same point.
C. The Death of Saint Francis Xavier Church, Petoskey, Michigan.
The "old" church, prior to renovation. This brings us to our present situation. Here, we have a beautiful, traditional Roman Catholic Church, following the lines of the ancient Temple in every respect. Let us examine the details. We have a vestibule, nave, pews with kneelers, and a Communion Rail. A beautiful, spiral-staircased pulpit towered on the edge of the Sanctuary, demonstrating visibly the power of the Word. Facing liturgically East, priest and people saw the majestic High Altar with its statues of Angels and saints on the reredos showing us the theological reality of Heaven. For in the Holy of Holies, the Tabernacle, Who dwells there? It is Christ the Lord, as is evinced by the Sanctuary Lamps. Gracing the space outside the Sanctuary were the beautiful side-altars, true shrines to Blessed Mary and to Saint Joseph, the relics in their altar-stones bearing physical witness to the Sacrifice of the Mass, to the sacrifices of the Saints. All these things were hallowed by time, by use at Holy Mass, by the blessings of a long-dead Bishop.
Even the newer Altar of Sacrifice was dignified for Divine Worship, although encouraging the wrong view of Mass "facing the people." There is no doubt what this church is for: a solemn offering by the Church through the hands of an ordained priest of the Most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ to the Eternal Father, the acceptable Victim who brings salvation to His People.
The new Saint Francis Church: a new beginning, a new theology, and a false faith. It has been said by the current pastor and others that the past is gone, that this is a new beginning for the parish. So let us bury the hatchet and be friends again in Christian fellowship. (This is Orwellian double-speak for: the old Church and Faith is gone, the new Faith and new building that matches it is here. You can't rebuild it, you've lost your appeal, and so you might as well cave. Oh and by the way, you've almost shut us down financially so make your Christian fellowship in the form of cold, hard cash. And may God, he or she, bless you). Let us now examine St. Francis as it is since the church's rededication, or as I term it, the desecration.
The ancient Temple plan is destroyed. The Altar Rail has been removed, thus removing the theological separation of priest and people. There is no Sanctuary. And since it is gone, you cannot kneel at it to pray or receive Holy Communion. Outta sight, outta mind. The High Pulpit has been removed and is laying in the parish garage on the floor, in violation of Canon Law and moral right. What does this say of the importance of the Word to these "reformers"? The "low" altar was removed, and a model's runway, a "catwalk" was built from the old Sanctuary into the nave, with some pews slanted toward/around it. Is this torturous display supposed to be communal, gathered around the Table?
The new "table" is not even centered, thus showing a discordance with symmetry, which indicates perfection, for God is perfect. But since the new ordering of St. Francis is not God-centered but an expression of monstrous vanity, it need not be "perfect." The side-altars have been destroyed for no reason, except that they reminded us of the Mass throughout the centuries. The High Altar remains, thankfully with Christ still in the Tabernacle, but it looks isolated, and out of place, as if it doesn't belong.
And that is the psychology of desecration: you are supposed to see that it doesn't fit with the new worship, the new theology, and the pita bread. Look how you were psychologically prepared for the transformation of the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass into the Lord's Supper: removal of the rail, slanting of the seats, the changing of your parish bulletin, which has been around forever. Thus no one will remember the traditional Catholic Sanctuary, the Mass as it was and is, or even the Bulletin. They will be theologically deficient because the church has been stripped of its Catholic Faith in architecture, like Christ stripped of His garments.
You have been told that Perpetual Adoration is out, as it really does not belong to our times. What a diabolical utterance from a Catholic priest! Unless, maybe he no longer thinks like a Catholic priest. And if this is so, are his Masses even valid? A priest who dares to say it's not a good idea to be on your knees before Jesus Christ 24-7, how will he answer on the Day of Last Judgment, where the angels, cherubim and seraphim, and those before the Lamb are prostrate in adoration? If this is what he does in the green wood, what will he do in the dry?
Adjacent to the new "Table" is the baptismal font or dunking pond. First, was this necessary? Assuredly not! Why not? Because, while in certain segments of the Early Church a font such as this was indeed built, they were never part of the church building per se. Why? Because the Baptistery was for the unbelievers to come out of darkness and into the lumen Christi, the Light of Christ. It was never adjacent to the Altar, which is only for the Faithful. So the very theology of the Church, which even in the RCIA rites demands that the catechumens be dismissed before the Offertory of the Mass, is ignored.
The destruction of the Sanctuary, the removal of the side altars, the removal of statues, the installation of a catwalk with table, the removal of the High Pulpit, the isolation of the High Altar with Christ Present upon it, and the rejection of Perpetual Adoration indicates but one thing: a denial and rejection of the Roman Catholic Faith "which comes to us from the Apostles." It is architectural apostasy designed to change your theology through psychology, the psychology of desecration. The Soviets did that. They took Russian churches and built toilets or public walkways where the Sanctuaries were; in that way, people would have to walk on the Holy of Holies. It is all about psychology. It is a psychology to make you think the Catholic building has changed because the Catholic Faith has changed.
My fellow Catholics, the Faith has not changed. They Church has not changed. Oh, some things have, but they are not essentials. Your belief is reflected in the manner in which you pray. And the manner in which you pray reflects your beliefs, to the Church and to the World. So a church that no longer looks Catholic, feels Catholic, sounds Catholic, that suppresses Perpetual Adoration, the Communion Rail, sacred images, truly "sacred space", is NOT CATHOLIC except in name. Be vigilant and pray that you may not be put to the test and lose your Faith. Go to St. Francis for Mass, be friendly to all, with charity towards all and malice towards none, but do not bend one jot, not one iota to the desecrators. Pray the prayers of our fathers and mothers, the prayers for the Holy Father, the prayers which they would have you forget. Invoke the prayers of the Mother of God, of Saint Joseph, of St. Francis Xavier, your holy patron upon your pastor and bishop, and poor parish.
Reflect upon the Faith of your holy father in the Faith, Saint Francis Xavier, who converted India, the country of my birth, who converted Japan and parts of China, and who died abandoned, alone and friendless on foreign shores. Wherever he went, he built magnificent churches for the greater glory of God, not to soak the little people, and certainly not through trickery. Why then? Because nothing is too good to offer God, the best that we have should be offered to God, from material things to our immortal souls. Isn't it funny how our churches are to be reduced to the most simplistic things and yet our Diocesan bank accounts get larger in the process?
What is desecration? Desecration in Canon Law is described in Canon 1211: "Sacred places are violated by gravely injurious actions done in them with scandal to the faithful, actions which in the judgment of the local ordinary are so grave and contrary to the holiness of the place that it is not permitted to carry on worship in them until the damage is repaired by a penitential rite according to the norm of the liturgical books." Canon 1212 notes that "Sacred places lose their dedication or blessing if they have been destroyed in large part, or have been turned over permanently to profane use by the decree of the competent ordinary or in fact." (Emphasis added). Thus, of course St. Francis had to be re-dedicated, because as Canon 1212 indicated "it has been destroyed in large part"! Was not the church building's renovation a "gravely injurious action" done "with scandal to the faithful, and "so grave and contrary to the holiness of the place"?
Why did the Bishop not intervene? Because such a judgment is not up to you, dear Catholics, but in his judgment alone, derived from his authority as Bishop of this Diocese. And since it is obvious from the renovation, the lack of vocations, the manner in which parishioners were treated etc., that he shares the views of the desecrators, he will never intervene on your behalf. And since such lack of intervention runs contrary to the Faith, it is not Catholic and his pronouncements are not Catholic in these matters. He is a Judas, a fallen successor the Apostles, and we must pray for him that he recovers his Faith before his natural death and he learns the terrible wages of such sinfulness. Pray for him and for yourselves, that in judging correctly you are constantly aware of your own sinfulness.
III. THE SOLUTION: CATHOLIC EDUCATION ON ALL LEVELS AND PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF UNITY WITH THE MAGISTERIUM OF THE CHURCH.
The solution is Catholic Education on a scale never dreamed of by this parish, the Guild, or all of us that had some quiet peace under some good priests during our life. I have several modest proposals and then I will close. First, the Guild must see the "signs of the times" and change. Does this mean backing off or starting to give money again, or some other nonsense? Not at all. The original purpose of the Guild was to preserve the architectural integrity of your parish church. This purpose has, at least for now, been thwarted. The desecrators think they have won. They haven't. Rome has not yet ruled on this case, and there is precedent for ordering a reversal. It can and may happen. But until it does happen and you wait like good Catholics in hiding (like the Catholics of England under Edward VI waiting for Good Queen Mary's ascension to the Throne and the restoration of the Faith), we must come to grips that the protestantizing of the church appears to be a fait accompli. What can we do? We must change our purpose.
The purpose, I propose must be not just preserving the building's integrity but the integrity of the Catholic Faith in this Diocese. It must be a Catholic Faith Preservation Guild. And we must all begin to open our eyes and see the Truth.
Second, you must institute a information network that involves sacrifice but is exciting and spiritually enriching as well: send cheap Rosaries and a prayer card on how to pray it to all parishioners, courtesy of the "education guild". Send out Scapulars, blessed by visiting priests, which you yourselves wear at all times. The same is true of leaflet novenas, St. Benedict Medals, and prayers encouraging prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. All take a holy vow to make an Act of Thanksgiving after Holy Mass every time you attend Mass, no matter where it is said. Pray the prayers for the defense of the Church, the conversion of Russia and for holy vocations as in times past. Do it as parishioners, do it as families: three Hail Marys, the Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen), the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, Most Sacred Heart of Jesus thrice, Immaculate Heart of Mary thrice, and invoking your parish patron thrice at the end, the glorious Apostle of Jesus Christ, St. Francis Xavier.
Third, organize a Speaker Series to educate all on the truths of the Faith, which is already in the works. Tell al you can. Change your language to reflect our traditions and history: it is not a presider's chair, a table, a Cup, a cross, the bread, an assembly, the Lord's Supper. Use words sanctified by Saints and the Magisterium: priest, Altar, Holy Mass, the Sacrifice of the Mass, a Chalice, a Crucifix, the congregation, a Crucifix.
Finally, educate yourselves. People say, well I could never know as much as you do, and they give up! You know so much about your Faith! Do not hide it under a bushel basket, but let your light shine before men that they may see the good that you do and give glory to God. Read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, read the Baltimore Catechism, read Sacred Scripture for 15 minutes a day, study traditional church design and see how it jives with the Catholic religion. Pray devotions and teach your children. The desecrators are aiming their attacks at your children so that they will not pass on the memory of your parish church. It is intolerable that you will say, I cannot do as you do, Trevor! You are much better people and more humble than I have ever been. You are an inspiration of dry martyrdom around the country and in Heaven.
Do all these things, and on the Last Day, you can say with Saint Paul, " I have fought the good fight, I have run the race, I have kept the Faith." A glorious inheritance is yours, says the Lord, for those would do His Divine Will. Is enough ever enough? Can you say, well we tried and that's enough? No, my friends. It is not a fight for a building as our enemies believe and portray to the world, it is a fight for souls and for Christ Our Lord. And we can never give up. I will leave you with a lengthy quote from Saint Edmund Campion, known in history as Campion's Brag. Thanks to the Guild for having me, for all your patience, and to God for His many graces to me. I am now open for any questions.
May Almighty God bless my work, forgive its defects and my sins, and judge it not too harshly, for it is offered only for the greater glory of God, and for no other purpose than to further the Gospel of the Divine Redeemer, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who with the Father and the Holy Ghost are to be praised, now and forever, and unto ages of ages! Amen.
Trevor N. Fernandes, Esq.
Member, Fellowship of Catholic Scholars