Updated: Aug 29, 2022
Metaphorically speaking, the Church is a house. More, it is our home. Listen to the Psalmist: “We bless you from the house of the Lord” (118:26). And again, “There are shouts of joy and victory in the tents of the just” (118:15). Why is a gathering of fellow believers our home in our somewhat solitary sojourn? And why is it that that is where the just gather to rejoice? Because “the stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” (118:22). Through His prophetic mouthpiece, God revealed millennia ago that Christ would come to save mankind from its sins. And for that we gather and rejoice, giving thanks to our great God who never abandons His people.
But how is the Church a house of weights and measures? In this specific sense: we have good leaders, and not so good leaders, loaned us by God to lead, for good or ill, as we say in the “Angel of God” prayer, “to light, to guard, to rule and guide.” The Church has been blessed with the most excellent of minds and hearts: St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas and 35 other Doctors of the Church (at last count*), wonder workers, martyrs, virgins, parents, those hidden away in the desert and those who remain in our presence with selfless dedication and service. All the faithful are subordinate to the rules of that house, to the authority established by God, and the key to enter and leave that house, I believe, is obedience.
During the 1849 Gold Rush of California, an American phrase summed up “gaining experience of the world at a significant cost” (Wikipedia): “Seeing the Elephant.” Those who saw, dug for, handled, owned and sold gold caught the gold fever. Many spent their lives pursuing that wondrous beast. Those who did not, perhaps left disenchanted, abandoning pursuit of that which they never fully witnessed. Back to my point, each of the Church’s leaders, each with a slightly different point of view, due to their differing backgrounds and insights and values; good leaders all--each with their own experience of “the elephant” they avidly pursued inspiring the rest of us to follow.
Then again, God’s house allows not so good leaders: unfaithful, self-centered, ignorant and sinful men and women—we are all ignorant and sinful to a degree, some more so than others. It seems to me that leaders today are marred with misconceptions as they fight imaginary dragons depicted by social justice warriors. Several of my priest friends defended Antifa, believing wrongly that they were defending downtrodden blacks. Some bishops believe that the great crisis of the Church today is that people aren’t willing to “progress” to liberated views of homosexuality and contraception. Sadly, our current pope seems dedicated to pursuing global world order rather than gathering together the faithful under the one cornerstone of Tradition passed on by God’s proven prophets. Nowadays, it seems the “elephant” our leaders pursue is to become prophets of modernism, liberalism and socialism. It goes without saying that those in error will be judged by history (not to mention the Almighty), but in the meantime, well, these are the leaders we have.
Of course I do not foster a wholesale adoption of such mistaken values and views through obedience; that results in the blind folly we have today. But I also discourage splinter groups that would set out to establish themselves by their own presumed authority against the established order allowed by God, as I argued in my previous article (Division Must Cease!), with the one particular instance about priests who tell people to avoid the Novus Ordo mass at all costs, even to the point of not attending mass at all. There are higher laws then these; there is an established order of commandments, precepts and canonical laws, if we but inform ourselves of what that established order is and how best to serve under it. I argue that the Novus Ordo may be flawed, but it is still valid: by it the Eucharist is still confected, and through it God’s people continue to be nourished with the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ who leads us to the promised land. Find a parish community where you can worship in spirit and truth, that is your canonical right; but please make certain that community has not rejected universal Church law (as exemplified in my article “Their Loss, Your Gain”). We have enough problems surmounting the “current tyranny” reducing the Church to a secular progressive NGO (Non Governmental Organization) , rather than to jump ship for the sake of pursuing some older model. Some may think I am tilting at windmills, but from my experience and knowledge, there is more afoot disrespecting God's house than the current lack of reverence and sanity in the liturgy. The only refuge we have is that which God provides, under the umbrella of grace infusing His house, and if we must weigh and measure the good from the bad, so be it, but let us do so while remaining in the house of God.