Today marks the one year anniversary of the founding of this blog, Scutum et Lorica, from the beloved Psalm 91, which states that God’s faithfulness is “breastplate and shield”, hence the name.
I began this blog after an inspiration at my retreat, and now write this piece to reflect, also after my annual retreat at the same time.
2018 was truly, as I wrote before, an annus horribilis. Few years in living memory can compare in regard to the massive upheavals in both Church and State. It was precisely in this context that the heartfelt words I began to write gained attention. Far and away, my most popular writings have had to do with Priests, and especially their personal struggles to live out their holy, beautiful and glorious vocations in an increasingly hostile secular world. What makes this age so perverse is not the hostility of ‘the world’, which Our Lord promised was always the lot of his true servants, but also the Church, which is adopting many of the same beliefs, attitudes, processes, priorities and decisions as the secular world, which grows increasingly colder and darker as the enlightening virtue of faith, and the warming virtue of charity are exstinguished.
This blog was founded in part because there is a lot of energy (and money) behind people who want to reform the Church, but not much is offered in regard to a framework to carry this out. There are some who are fixated, even obsessed, with the morals of the Church and her Clergy, but who are astoundingly ignorant as to the human, moral and spiritual conditions which create or abet this situation. My own work, while being passionately pro-reform, is also dedicating much energy so that we not lose our humanitas at this critical juncture in our history. Mere denouncements and investigative reporting will not solve our present crisis. Only sincere prayer, repentance and a hard look at systems of corruption will save us. Ultimately, it is the Lord who saves, and so we must look humbly to him.
Most of the Church’s crises have happened because of a disorder within herself, whether doctrinal or moral. Then, depending upon the nature of the problem, various counter groups emerge, and sometimes their ‘solutions’ end up breaking the Church they wish to save, or else groups ultimately these find themselves apart from the Church altogether.
One of the most dangerous reactions to crisis is denial, but its opposite, that which I suppose one could term “over-correction”, is not without its dangers also.
Also, the reduction of a multivalent crisis to one particular cause is not helpful in regard to its resolution, both in theory or in pratice. To borrow from the Scholastic dictum, “the order of operation is opposite to the order of intention.” If we intend to fix the problem, we must identify what we seek to acheive before, and not after, going forward with a plan.
I hope in the coming months to put forward several essays on the subject Church Reform which are practical and theoretical. I will be looking at precedents in our history, and also the examples of individual men and women, especially Saints, and their contribution to the Church.
But above all, as I said, as we discuss the ideas surrounding this topic, we must never forget the individuals such talk impacts: reform, like a virtue, does not emerge by mere mechanism, but becomes instantiated in persons engaged in the effort. Persons do not move in the realm of pure ideas. Ideas are only made actual when persons incarnate their qualities.
So too at this time, some want to reform “The Church”, but that is more of an idea, however lofty, than an embodied reality. Part of reform also recognizes that we make some allowance for the fact that no merely human system is perfect, and that disappointments will come, to say the least.
One thing I do hope, that this blog and others like it will not disappoint, as we lift our voices together to contribute, in this Year of Grace 2019, to our common goal: that Jesus Christ be glorified, and that individual souls be saved. May God look favorably upon us all at this time.