“It will most likely end up being a sanctuary for holy Priests in time of persecution,” a reader of HSH writes. Yikes! Which brings up the question:
In times of persecution, what are priests to do?
Hide? Be in-your-face?
One priest said that he would like to hide out at Holy Souls Hermitage during a persecution. What he meant, I’m sure, is that he would provide the sacraments to the faithful, but in a hidden way, until he was betrayed. Another said, “I will die with my people.” What he meant, I’m sure, is that he would provide the sacraments to the faithful until he was betrayed until he was betrayed. There’s no use filling up churches publicly just to get everyone killed in one go, you know, for the drama of it all. But is going about providing the sacraments to the faithful at the risk of one’s life, doing this with prudence, even hidden, and without otherwise speaking out, no more than cowardice? Some think so. Let’s investigate this.
What’s the purpose of the priestly vocation? Does it include having that much touted prophetic voice? Perhaps it is helpful to rephrase this question:
When does a priest’s prophetic voice become self-serving?
- There are those who spit in Jesus’ face, when He says that we are to be as prudent as serpents but as innocent as doves as we go about preaching the Kingdom of God (see Luke 10,16). They say that the prudential bit is satanic, that Jesus has a demonic spirit. Prudence, they say, is a demonic vice, not a cardinal virtue. Real virtue, they say, consists in always and everywhere screaming about well… it doesn’t matter, as long as someone is screaming.
- There are those who spit in Jesus’ face when they read that He passed through the midst of the crowd that would throw him down the cliff on which the town was built, and then walking away, that is, instead of preaching what they refuse to hear (see Luke 4,30).
- There are those who spit in Jesus’ face when they read that, in fact, He hid himself and went out from the temple, instead of being stoned (see John 8,59).
- There are those who spit in Jesus’ face when they read that He went up to feast privately, even though He later spoke publicly (see Luke 7,8-14ff ), for, they say, he should have gone up publicly as well, not in secret.
But they don’t stop there:
- There are those who say that all the seminarians at the Venerable English College who were preparing to be ordained and then head off to England to be martyred where they would inevitably be found in their priest holes, were damned fools to provide the sacraments to the Catholic faithful, for they should have revealed themselves as priests and rail against the persecution as they stepped off the boat. They say that Campion’s Brag was no more than the diatribe of a coward. They say that they deserved all they got in being racked, and hung and drawn and quartered, for that is the just end of the one who acts with what they consider to be the demonic prudence of quietly bringing the sacraments to the faithful.
- There are those who say that all the underground priests in Russia, who quietly went about providing the sacraments to the faithful, were rightly betrayed by the KGB spy at the Russicum in Rome, so that they were murdered in their many dozens in a wave of violence, for, they say, this is the just end of those who would be prudent in remaining silent in the face of persecution, and instead merely risk their lives ever so hiddenly, quietly, providing the sacraments to the faithful.
- There are those who condemn the bishops and priests who are faithful to Rome in mainland China, thinking that their prudence of risking their lives in quietly going about providing the sacraments to the faithful is diabolical, for they should all go about screaming about injustice on the streets in order to prove that they are nice. They think that when they are imprisoned and tortured and put to death, when they are interred in labor camps, re-education camps, that they get what they deserve for their having been prudent in quietly providing the sacraments to the faithful.
- There are those who condemn the seminarians of this past generation, who, without denying the faith or morals of the Church, always upholding the same, but who didn’t stand up and scream against heresy in every class they had in the seminary, but were quietly going about faithfulness to the Lord and somehow getting ordained, perhaps having been thrown out of multiple seminaries. They say that these seminarians are to be condemned for their trust in the Lord, who, they say, is to be spit upon, for they should only trust in screaming about anything and everything, as long as they are screaming.
- There are those who, finally, condemn Saint Thomas Aquinas for his commentary on fraternal correction, thinking that the prudence spoken about by the angelic doctor surely makes him into a (and I quote) “Marxist homosexualist infiltrator” liberal idiot (whew!).
You get the idea! Maybe…
Perhaps not yet.
- There are those who condemn Pius XII for his extreme activism in saving more Jews than all others put together during the Holocaust, for they say that he is a demonic Marxist homosexualist infiltrator because he didn’t also scream against the Holocaust in front of the New Reich Chancellery in Berlin, but saved more Jews than he otherwise could have by working quietly, not worrying about scoring points with those who would condemn him for doing much better than those who screamed.
- And then there are those who praise those who condemn Pius XII because they think they are being politically correct with traditionalist Catholics who actually are not traditionalist nor Catholic in such endeavors.
Not you get it, for sure.
I recommend, instead, a voice of reason in all this: Father Gordon MacRae (about). Take a look at this article of his about Hitler’s Pope, Nazi Crimes and the New York Times, along with the incisive comments by the likes of, say, Dorothy Stein.
As it is, I think that any prophetic voice ends up being self-serving when the speaker is doing this for one-up-man-ship, for self-righteous “I’m better than you are” inversion. Sure, speak out while you can and in whatever way you can as long as that does not get people unnecessarily murdered.
Was Benedict XVI right to speak out against Islamicist violence in Regensburg even though later there were retaliatory killings? Sure.
Was it right for Pius XII to do the best he could to save as many as he could even if this didn’t fit the scream at all times categories of later pundits? Absolutely.
But the complicity of the New York Times in the Holocaust is what it is.
Look at the circumstances.
I think that those who strike out at the Lord’s anointed, at Pius XII, and against so many who were martyrs in the midst of their prudence, will regret having done this on the day of judgment.
Our Lord will not be mocked. Our Lord will not be mocked in His martyrs.