The precise location of Aristotle’s immortal soul we know not. That he lived, philosophized, and died is the most we can say certainly; but with Dante we may dare hope that a pleasant place in eternity has been reserved for the man reverently known as the Philosopher. This awe before the might of his intellect and the high morals he was thought to exhibit on the basis of his philosophical reflection is in short supply today, for Aristotle, contrary to those who call themselves philosophers today, lived for truth. Unlike Socrates, Aristotle did not perish for the truth, but there is some evidence that he suffered late in life for it. Suffering for the truth, even natural truth, is a perennial phenomenon in human history, though we, sophisticated men of the 21st Century, pay such sacrifices little mind; and we are made aware of them, feelings of contempt suppress any glimmer of admiration. There are, so the story goes, so many things to live for today: consumption, clothes, iPads, sex, etc. All of life can and ought to be ceaseless entertainment and unprecedented comfort. To suffer is to have failed at contemporary existence, and to suffer for something as “contingent” and “fleeting” as truth could very well by called, by our dim lights, the grossest form of idiocy.
Truths which the Stagirite sought by exercising his powerful intellect are preserved in fullnes by the Holy Catholic Church. What man’s reason could not grasp, Christ’s revelation supplied. For nearly 2,000 years, despite heresies, schisms, and external assaults, the Church has endured, just as our Lord Jesus Christ promised. Through her bishops and priests, she has jealously guarded the deposit of faith, warding off time and again wolves in sheep’s clothing who would gladly devour souls as part of their prideful attempt to redefine what has always been held. Now we see that the wolves have broken through the defenses, and many are so bold as to discard their disguises, for they know — or at least they believe — that the world is on their side. For decades, they have conspired, under the pretext of orthodoxy, to reshape the manner in which the truth is delivered so that the ugliest lies appeared on the same level as the most resplendent certitudes. We were told that a “New Springtime” has arrived, and that the Church was being ushered along to a greater understanding of her mission by way of a “Second Pentecost.” The world and its ways — the spirit of the times — no longer needed to be overcome; it could be subsumed, digested, and redelivered as something higher. The world needn’t be redeemed by the Church; the Church needed to be made relevant through the world.
And what has been the cost of that “relevancy”? What “higher end” has been achieved by abandoning truth? The cost, I fear, has been the loss of thousands upon thousands — perhaps even millions — of souls. As for the dubious achievement of the present compromise between darkness and the light, there is almost nothing to be said. That is, there is nothing good to be said, for the ongoing auto-demolition of the Corpus Mysticum is evil. Shepherds of the Church who go so far as to sew doubt among the faithful which will no doubt lead many into grievous moral error are committing evil deeds. It matters not if they are priests, bishops, cardinals, or even a pope; to say or do anything which is contrary to the truth, that is, which is contrary to the good must be called out for what it is. Instead, weak but well-intentioned souls try to wipe reality away, claiming that the problem is not so much that there are shepherds, even Princes of the Church, who are inviting Catholics to walk in untruth, but that we do not “truly understand” what “the truth” is to begin with. How can we call something untruth — how can we protest error and lies — if we have not allowed our hearts to be “illumined” through “encounters,” and “pastoral sensitivity,” or “new understandings” unavailable to those “retrogrades” who insist on living ought their neo-Pelagian lives in Promethean ghettos?
But we are not abandoned. On God’s watch, and in God’s time, this terrible trial in the history of the Church continues to play out. There may come a time, decades or centuries from now, when the Church, under the Lord’s direction, will reach a fuller understanding of this era in her history. For those living in the present, God continues to provide the means to withstand, nay, resist the darkness. There is, above all else, the Holy and Eternal Mass, the great prayer of the Church, which is offered in full on fewer altars today than yesteryear, but still it is offered. And let us not forget the Rosary, bequeathed to St. Dominic by the Blessed Virgin Mary herself, which all the faith can both wield as a sword and hold up as a shield. For while some Catholics, out of a proper instinct for self-preservation, have pulled back from the front lines, they cannot expect security without divine assistance. Look already at how quickly the devil and his damned army have seduced the caretaker’s of Christ’s flock. Look at how the demons have worked to obscure the necessity of the sacraments, of prayer, and authentic catechesis. Every spiritual armament which God has handed His people has been derided, reduced, or, in some places, effectively banished from the life of the Catholic Church. The devil and those who, wittingly or not, place themselves in his awful service could not have reaped so much destruction so rapidly otherwise.
In an interview aired today in France, Cardinal Raymond Burke, one of the champions for truth during last year’s disastrous Extraordinary Synod on the Family, speaks of the painful and worrisome state of the Church today. With upmost confidence in Christ’s words to St. Peter that the powers of evil will not prevail, Cardinal Burke states, unequivocally, that if the Holy Father should push the Church toward untruth, “I shall resist, I can do nothing else. There is no doubt that it is a difficult time; this is clear, this is clear.” Is it clear enough yet to the rest of us that we need to join him?