Originally published by Oremus Press, June, 2020
Do you love God? Are you sure? Just how much? Do you love Him as much as your earthly father—the one who taught you how to ride a bike?
Let’s find out.
Pretend your dad’s organized a multi-week family reunion. He has a large, well-appointed home, and he’s hosting everyone in a lavish fashion. A few days into the gathering, a small group of men show up claiming to be distant cousins. Nobody in the family recognizes the men, but they decide to give the strangers the benefit of the doubt and invite them to join the party, which the “cousins” do.
As the days go by, valuables begin to disappear—first your Aunt Linda’s jewelry, then your father’s coin collection, then the heirloom silver service. It’s obvious the “cousins” are taking these things. After a few days, they’ve given up even trying to hide their crimes, and start behaving like all-around pigs. They trash their rooms, get drunk at dinner (and sometimes lunch), and they flirt with everyone who stands still long enough. After all, they don’t give a hoot in Hades about your dad, so why should they respect his house or the things and people in it?
If you found yourself in this situation, you would surely do a mop-up job and kick the parasites out of your dad’s house lickety split. You would call in whatever help you saw fit—law enforcement, your buddy from the gym, that ex-Marine who lives up the street, whomever fit the bill—and you would get the job done without delay. You certainly wouldn’t wring your hands and make excuses for the thieves, allowing them to stick around indefinitely on your dad’s dime and time.
So do you love God as much as you love your dad? Would you, will you, evict the crooks from His house? Because right now God’s house is overflowing with criminal impostors, and you are doing absolutely nothing about it. Instead, you, and most of your fellow Catholics, are making excuses for them and using “obedience” as justification for your indolence.
But we do not owe the impostors our obedience. They are thieves in the house of the Lord. They hold no legitimate office because they are heretics. When one worships a false god within the house of the one true God—or anywhere else for that matter—one might just as well tattoo “Hello, my name is Heretic” right across one’s forehead. When one bows down before an idol, or prays to “Mother Earth,” or speaks of the planet upon which we live as though it were a deity whose forgiveness we ought to seek; when one does these things—to name just a few of the crimes customarily committed in the contemporary House of God—that person is committing heresy, plain and simple.
And we do not owe obedience to heretics. Quite the contrary.
Neither do we owe heretics protection from hurt feelings. So let’s stop pussyfooting around about calling a spade a spade and a heretic a heretic. There is no legitimate reason not to do so. It’s not charitable to the heretic to deny or ignore their heresy—to do so is to affirm them on their path to Hell and thereby be complicit in their damnation; furthermore, it discourages them from repenting, which is their only path to salvation. Nor is it charitable to those doing the denying; it makes liars, and therefore sinners, of them all, as they must pervert reality—pervert truth—in order to ignore what is right under their noses. The failure to bluntly acknowledge and condemn heresy wherever we find it is damaging to the spiritual health of everyone involved.
After we have identified the impostors under Our Lord’s roof, we must rid ourselves of them. We cannot continue to sit idly by and allow crooks to run amok in the House of God. Jesus expelled the money changers from the Temple, and we must follow His example.
But how can we do this? With tar and feathers? The guillotine? Torches and pitchforks? Of course not. The means available to us are nothing even remotely so dramatic or absurd, but far less simple.
We should start by insisting upon authentic leadership. We must demand that our bishops call one another to account when they stray from orthodoxy. Write letters and emails, make phone calls, flood diocesan offices with the cacophony of your voices and picket them physically. Protest bad decisions, and praise good ones.
Vote with your feet and your wallet—if your current parish has a wishy-washy, cowardly, or heterodox priest, stop subsidizing his theological malfeasance by paying his bills, and stop parking your pants on his pews. Find an orthodox priest, and transfer your attendance and financial support to his parish—no matter how much farther you have to drive.
We have to better support and reward our good priests and stop letting the bad ones slide. These wolves in shepherds’ clothing are desecrating your Father’s treasures. Stop rewarding them for doing it by endlessly showing up at their parishes, stuffing their collection baskets, and making excuses for their words and deeds. You wouldn’t tolerate it if they treated your dad disrespectfully—how much less so should you tolerate such behavior toward your God by those consecrated to His service?
Nobody else can do this janitor job for us, and we should stop expecting that to happen. Just like at dad’s reunion, we must call in whatever help fits the bill—the prayers of the saints and Our Lady; the support of solid, orthodox clergy; frequent Confession and Communion; prayer, fasting, and almsgiving—and take care of this most serious business. Will it be easy? Heck no. In fact, writing letters, making calls, and even just staying informed will be time-consuming and energy-draining. Will it be quick? Again, no. This process of slowly shutting out and loudly shouting down the wolves among our shepherds will likely take many years to bear fruit. But the light at the end of the tunnel is bright indeed—if only we can claw our way into it.
So let’s get started on a spring cleaning without delay, shall we? We may be a little late in the season, but better late than never. And just think of how beautiful God’s house will be, once all the filth has been scraped away …