The answer came in a name: Peter. The only clear and historically satisfying answer was to stay close to Peter. God gave us an unbroken line of popes, some stars, and some cinders, but all popes, to follow. And Peter was to be found in one place only: the Roman Catholic Church.
And so the Bear returned to the Church, eyes wide open, fully aware of the faithlessness and clownishness, venality and banality he would find. It was a foolproof plan. And his expectations were low.
With Pope Francis and his current Turkish seal show in Rome, those low expectations have been blown out. The Bear no longer expects the Church to teach the faith badly, nor even not at all. Pope Francis has ushered in the era of anti-teaching. In a way, he is an anti-shepherd, for all his sheep-sniffing. He's positively intoxicated on the smell, and has forgotten everything else.
The Catholic Church is no longer a reliable source of Catholic teaching.
This is our strange, new reality. It bears thinking about, calmly, once the shock wears off.
The good news, however, is that the office of Peter remains, and we all have a foolproof way of finding and remaining in the Church. Furthermore, the Pope and his Bishops can't erase the past. They have tried in their synod, just as they tried with Vatican II, and, more exactly, the "spirit of Vatican II." But, like weeds growing toward the light through cracks in the sidewalk, real Catholicism is sprouting up in a million different ways.
No pope, no prelate, no parish priest can destroy the Church that lives in our hearts. The real Church Militant.
Only we can do that. Disgust, discouragement, hatred -- these are sure ways to extinguish the Church in our hearts.
Whatever is spewed out by the synod is not binding on the Catholic conscience. It is not infallible. If we have superior authority -- such as Holy Writ and Sacred Tradition -- to correct the errors that are being peddled, then we are free to rely on the more authoritative teaching. So what if they call us "Cafeteria Catholics?" That just betrays ignorance and pettiness (as well as unoriginality).
The real Church is not limited to the sliver of the present moment. It stretches forward from the ancient world and angels say: "Who is she that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in array?" (Song of Solomon 6:10.)
|Charles VII of France|
The Bear has always thought it a little beside the point when well-meaning people say "well, the gates of Hell won't prevail against the Church," or "we win in the end!"
That's all very well and good, but right now we're up to our necks in purple vipers. Now is the time to turn to the saints. Fighters like Joan, and saints who lived in troubled times like Teresa of Avila. And, above all, Mary, whom the Orthodox call "Our Champion Hero" and who granted victory to the outnumbered Christian fleet at Lepanto, as we just celebrated.
In every battle, there are those who fall before seeing victory. This will probably be our fate. But sell yourselves dearly, confident that your joy in the fight will be perfected if you win your place among heroes.