Tuesday, 9 September 2008

The Walsingham Project: how do we recreate Christendom



Prayer to convert England


A number of English blogs have pointed over the last few days to the new site of the Walsingham Project, which 'aims to provide a Catholic response to the de-Christianization and islamization of Europe and the West', certainly a worthy cause.

The project is partly a prayer crusade. The site even provides a prayer that people from other countries can say for the cause. Here it is:

O Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our most gentle Queen and Mother, look down in mercy upon England thy Dowry and upon us all who greatly hope and trust in thee.
By thee it was that Jesus our Saviour and our hope was given unto the world; and He has given thee to us that we might hope still more. Plead for us thy children, whom thou didst receive and accept at the foot of the Cross.

0 sorrowful Mother! Intercede for our separated brethren, that with us in the one true fold they may be united to the supreme Shepherd, the Vicar of thy Son.

Pray for us all, dear Mother that by faith fruitful in good works we may all deserve to see and praise God, together with thee, in our heavenly home. Amen.'

But what about Australia (or...)?

Prayer is obviously the essential starting point, but what comes next is a more vexed question. The Walsingham project is apparently premised on the need for a spiritual dimension (prayer) and an intellectual dimension, in this case supplied by the promotion of a book defending the sacraments by Henry VIII (written before he fell into schism). I have to say that sounds a little weird to me.

But then, when it comes to programs for converting the world, there are a wide range of views around. Collecting up people's programmes for the task has become a little bit of a hobby of mine, so I thought I'd give you a partial list of those I've come across so far for your consideration....

1. Catechize the laity properly, and encourage them to engage in the 'public square' - this is the age of the laity, and they have to take the lead in the 'new evangelization' (a popular view, particularly in the US, amongst neo-cons)

2. Create enclaves where Catholics can practice their faith in safety while the world falls apart around us and from which when the time is right catholics can re-emerge to evangelize (eg Ave Maria, but the traddie quasi-amish homeschooling strand of thinking is similar)

3. Strive more than ever for holiness, pray fervently and maintain absolute fidelity to the holy teaching of the Church, faithfulness to the Holy See, frequent reception of the sacraments, the Rosary, daily spiritual reading, and gratitude that we have been given the fullness of God’s revelation (a traddie version of 1, from Alice von Hildebrand; but see also Peter Kreeft's book on How to win the Culture War).

4. Spread the TLM far and wide; get novus ordo said reverently. 'Say the black, do the red'; Save the liturgy; save the world (Fr Z).

5. Systematically expose doctrinal and other errors and depose bishops as necessary (aka bring back the Inquisition).

6. Encourage Catholics to smash their tv sets and rediscover the wonders of our patrimony (the rationale for liberal arts 'great book' based programs), which is the bulwark against the barbarians at the gate (John Senior and others), often argued for in conjunction with proposal 7.

7. Revive monasticism - monasteries converted Europe once, they can do it again! What is needed is powerhouses of liturgy, people willing to show their conviction through sacrifice, and point the way to heaven by example (Dom Calvet, Senior, etc).


A balance?

I have to admit I personally think we probably have to do a little bit of all the above (and more). I think we will only move forward when the laity are well educated and engaged; and when they are supported by good priests and vibrant monasteries. In my view the whole of the Church militant needs to be healthy to be effective, because each part of the Church depends on the other (just as the Church Militant in turn depends on the Church Triumphant).

So Fr Aidan Nichol's multi-pronged approach (Proposal 8) has some attractions - his list is revive doctrine; re-enchant the liturgy; recover Thomist metaphysics; renew Christian political thought; revive the Christian family; resacralise art and architecture; revive monastic life; more powerful pro-life rhetoric; recover reading of Scripture; and fix Catholic schools.

Of course that still leaves the question of where to start....but while we ponder that we can at least mirror the Walsingham Project and pray for the conversion of Australia (thanks to Psallite Sapienter for posting this awhile back):

"O God, Who hast appointed Mary, Help of Christians, St Francis Xavier, and St Therese of the Infant Jesus Patrons of Australia, grant that through their intercession our brethren outside the Church may receive the light of faith, so that Australia may become one in faith under one Shepherd. Through Christ our Lord. R/. Amen.

Mary, Help of Christians, pray for us.

St Francis Xavier, pray for us.

St Therese of the Infant Jesus, pray for us

11 comments:

Cardinal Pole said...

"The Walsingham project is apparently premised on the need for a spiritual dimension (prayer) and an intellectual dimension, in this case supplied by the promotion of a book defending the sacraments by Henry VIII (written before he fell into schism). I have to say that sounds a little weird to me."

I thought so too at first, but then I thought: that’s actually a clever little gimmick, don’t you think? It might even attract mainstream press coverage, whereas an ordinary drive for catechesis would only be of interest only to the Catholic press.

"6. Encourage Catholics to smash their tv sets and rediscover the wonders of our patrimony"

Yes, that’s an important starting point: smash them and consign them to the bonfire of the vanities (not literally of course, the fumes would kill you). I agree with Prof. Amerio: television is just an organ for intellectual corruption. 99% of it’s pure rubbish, and 90% verges on the pornographic (meant in the broadest sense, as in doing nothing but stimulating base appetites). The only stuff worth watching is the occasional A.B.C. news report or documentary, and they’re available on-line as transcripts, so there’s no need to watch them on T.V. I would go as far as to say that watching commercial T.V. these days might be an occasion of sin.

"So Fr Aidan Nichol's multi-pronged approach (Proposal 8) has some attractions - his list is revive doctrine; re-enchant the liturgy; recover Thomist metaphysics; renew Christian political thought ..."
(my emphasis)

What does he mean by this though? Does he acknowledge that the doctrine of union of Church and State is permanently valid doctrine? And that, even before considering Church-State relations, the State is a juridical and moral person and therefore can (and must) confess Christ? I talked about this on my recent post ‘Fr. Zuhlsdorf, human rights and the State’. One might object that, even if these are permanently valid doctrines, present circumstances banish them to the realm of high theory, but I would say that once we ignore the fact that the State’s authority is God-given it is all too easy to follow this with subversion of authority in the family and in the Church, and in the individual with regard to how he observes the moral law.

So, I would summarise the requirements as follows: at the micro level, get rid of your T.V.s, read and pray more (difficult if the T.V.’s blaring for a quarter of each day) and have bigger families. At the macro level, I would say forget Vatican II’s ambiguities, recover the Spirit of Trent and make the T.L.M. the normative Mass (after all, in no document did Paul VI say that the New Mass was obligatory, and we now know that the T.L.M. was never abrogated ...).

Terra said...

On Fr Nichols, you need to read Christendom Awake. His chapter on 'Reimagining the Christendom State' opens with an examination of the reasons for the removal of references to the social reign of Christ in the vespers hymn (and other places) for the feast of Christ the King post VII. His discussion of the topic is sophisticated and nuanced, but on my too limited knowledge of this topic, seems pretty traditional (he wants a religiously sanctioned monarchy).

I'm not quite so convinced about the smash the tv set argument. For religious (and perhaps priests), definitely. But laypeople live in the world and need to know what is happening in it, including to some degree how it is thinking - popular culture. They also have to have some recreation! And not everything on tv is bad - the answer is surely to get more programs with catholic principles embedded in them made.

Nor am I quite so convinced of the merits of studying classical literature (pagan and otherwise) -true two thousand years ago, but now the Church has her own patrimony (I'm rather with St Jerome and St Augustine on studying Christian classics instead).

I'd be interested in knowing what you mean by 'the spirit of Trent' -I have my own views on this, and they are nto particularly positive! Trent was necessary at the time and did a useful job defining some key doctrines. But in terms of its 'spirit' I think the time has long past.

Roses and Jessamine said...

I'm grateful for how rich Catholic life in England is. I've been to Masses in other parts of the world where the Church has to borrow a place of worship to serve Mass. We are blessed.

Louise said...

I'd have to agree with Pole on the TV. Seriously, if you've got the 'net you can keep up with things better than TV anyway. It really is a pile of rubbish and we marinate in its secular doctrine when we watch it. It really is very perverse.

Pole tells us to put it on the bonfire "not literally of course, the fumes would kill you."

They would, but the moral "fumes" are killing us already.

Louise said...

I discovered with delight that most of Fr Nichols' items were already occurring in my own life, at least as areas of interest and mostly as baby-steps already begun. If it can happen in my life it can happen in anyone's.

And I include in that my increased interest in the study of politics, culture, economics and the social reign of Christ.

Louise said...

that still leaves the question of where to start

Start anywhere, Terra, anywhere at all. It's such a big mess that we've just got to get in there and clean it up!

A little mantra I use in the home, incidentally, is that, "housework done imperfectly still blesses my family." Just get in and doing, with prayer for God's guidance - He will not fail us!

Cardinal Pole said...

"His chapter on 'Reimagining the Christendom State' opens with an examination of the reasons for the removal of references to the social reign of Christ in the vespers hymn (and other places) for the feast of Christ the King post VII."

Yes, I read about the changes in Religious Liberty Questioned and The Second Vatican Council and Religious Liberty. There was also the shifting of the Feast to the end of the liturgical year in order to give it a primarily eschatological meaning.

As for T.V., Louise is right. Just by reading the papers, internet and T.V. guides one can be perfectly conversant with popular culture while not immersing oneself in it.

And as for the Spirit of Trent, I mean, primarily, tackling error head-on rather than pandering to the 'consciousness of modern man' or whatever.

Anonymous said...

"Nor am I quite so convinced of the merits of studying classical literature (pagan and otherwise) -true two thousand years ago, but now the Church has her own patrimony (I'm rather with St Jerome and St Augustine on studying Christian classics instead)."

No pre-Socratics, no Socrates.

No Socrates, no Plato.

No Plato, no Aristotle.

No Aristotle, (apologies to Greek and Roman philosophers omitted here for brevity's sake) no St Thomas...

And, as a classicist myself, I fully realise the necessity of having some clerics trained in the classics, if only for the benefits that accrue from studying said philosophical authors in Latin or Greek, to say nothing of reading the NT, the Fathers and the medaeval theologians in the languages in which they wrote, without the intermediary of any English translation.

Also, the study of literatute is a necessary propaedeutic to philosophical/theological studies (cf. the mediaeval arts degrees), not to mention the help it provides to the preacher.

Oh, and as for the spirit of Trent, in so far as inadvisable reforms occurred (e.g., compulsory celibacy, and the development of the seminary system necessary to maintain it), I am against it myself.

+ Thomas Wolsey

Archieps. Ebor.

Card. Presbyter Sae Caeciliae trans Tiberim

Legatus a latere

Terra said...

Ahh, I was hoping someone would bite! The issue is do we really need to study the pagans in order to learn Latin and Greek? Certainly St Thomas uses Aristotle - but can't we just accept St Thomas' distillation of the Philosopher?

On your other point though, while I think compulsory celibacy dates back rather earlier than Trent (in principle at least!) I do wonder about the merits of the seminary system - put in to get a more educated and disciplined clergy, but these days the aimed for discipline seems to be sadly lacking (hence the continuing stream of abuse stories); and more educated seems to mean taught the latest heresies...

Cardinal Pole said...

"... the development of the seminary system ..."

I might add, as a little footnote, that it was Cardinal Pole who established the first seminary.

But York, what is so inadvisable about compulsory celibacy? He who is unwilling to offer the sacrifice of marriage and family is unworthy of being the one through whom Christ offers Himself to the Father.

Anonymous said...

"But York, what is so inadvisable about compulsory celibacy? He who is unwilling to offer the sacrifice of marriage and family is unworthy of being the one through whom Christ offers Himself to the Father."

Sorry, Canterbury, that's taking things much too far. I don't have time to answer this now, but I will, probably in a couple of days.

On, and every priest is unworthy, married or not. So that's not a reason to enforce celibacy.

+ Thomas Wolsey

Archieps. Eborac.

Card. Presbyter Sae Caeciliae trans Tiberim

Legatus a latere