16 October 2009

Let Us Stand Fast and Fight

In 1973 the late French thinker Jean Ousset, author of Action, reputed to be the definitive guide to Catholic action wrote a letter in response to a fellow Catholic who claimed that the religious situation in France "contributed to his total loss of faith." The whole letter can be found at The Remnant Newspaper but I am excerpting a few paragraphs that struck me as particularly poignant. It is also worth noting that J. Ousset does a fine job demonstrating that this period was not unique in the Church's history but rather that it's history is rather an almost uninterrupted "dark disorder."

"In my opinion, our sons will see 'soldiers of the Church' on the side of the forces of death. I shall be shot by Bolshevik priests carrying the Social Contract in their pockets and the Cross on their breasts!"

However, God has not yet allowed this to happen. He is still Master. Or is He holding this in store for us? You spoke of the goat in Daudet's story; she may have much to teach us - but God hears our prayers. That young she-goat stood her ground against the wolf throughout the night, refusing to lie down before the dawn. Is there a more enviable lot for any soldier of Christ who refuses to be daunted? Night is the thime for the scattering of cowards; for the silencing of the fearful, as Scripture tells us; the time when the bad shepherds prefer to remain in bed; the time when the eye-lids of the Apostles are heavy with sleep. The time for the activities of the Judases. The time for the loneliness of the Master. But it is also the time when the Bridegroom rejoices to find the wise virgins, their lamps full of oil and burning brightly.

It is the night: let us stand fast and fight. Happy are those who, like the young she-goat, are determined to fight to the death, who refuse to lie down and die before the break of day. For it is by enduring till the dawn that true victory is won, that our task is accomplished. And even if the Wolves withdraw only after they have torn us to pieces, the dawn is, in fact, the time when the Wolves flee the light; the time when they take flight from the flock; the time when even the cowardly take heart; the time when the flock can advance without fear.

May God make of us true soldiers of Christ! And when the time comes for us, too, to lie down and die, may we see in the East that brilliant light, not of a star but of that “Lumen Gentium”, of the “Sol Justitiae” which is the Christ: the dawn of a new Christian order in the world!

The rest matters little. Since he who sows does not reap, of what account is it if we are no longer there at the break of day? The glory of the Church is no human glory: She is Holy in spite of our unworthiness.

We are, indeed, in the throes of an agonizing trial, a trial which is the test of our Hope and of our Faith in the Church: the test of our Hope and our Faith in the Cross.

No doubt the Church is emerging from the disorder that afflicted it when this letter was written. Our shepherds have found their voices and are speaking loudly in defense of the faith. See Bishop Nickless of Sioux City's recent letter blasting the "Spirit of Vatican II" as but one recent example. Still the darkness covering the secular world seems to increasing daily. But the last paragraph of the letter provides us with the inspiration to keep our Faith and Hope.
So let us regain our courage, and as the Imitation tells us: “We have begun: we may not go back, nor may we leave off. Take courage brethren: let us go forward together. Jesus will be with us. For the sake of Jesus, we have taken up this Cross; for Jesus’ sake, let us persevere in it. He will be our Helper, Who is our Captain and our Forerunner. Behold our King marcheth before us, Who will fight for us. Let us follow Him manfully, let no one fear terrors, let us be ready to die valiantly in battle; nor let us bring disgrace upon our glory by flying from the Cross!” (The Imitation of Christ, Book III, Chap. LVI)[This last line is particularly important to the Knights of Malta because turning one's back on the Cross in battle meant expulsion from the Order.]

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