I don’t always agree with Hilary White, but I often admire and appreciate her insights. The following is her response to someone who had expressed strong bitterness towards (what I agree was) the post-Vatican II catastrophe in the Church. It’s something I had not thought of and I find it brilliantly expressed as well as darkly encouraging:
[A]cknowledging the unimaginable losses the collapse of the Church has caused, there is something good to remember here. In the past people had the Faith handed to them, and it cost them little or nothing to accept and keep it. They were often given little instruction past that which is given to children. People followed the Faith because it was what their parents did, or because all their neighbourhood was Catholic or their friends or businesses were. I know nuns who said that the exodus from the convents really happened because they had been given no intellectual formation in the Faith either in their homes or schools or the novitiate. It was mainly about how to walk and hold your hands so you looked like a holy nun. She had been a Carmelite, and she said they were told they were not allowed to read Teresa, for fear it would give them airs.
The Asteroid wiped all that away, and the people who had received the Faith so easily dropped it just as easily. What you get for nothing is not valued, even if it is pearls.
And now the Faith is still there and can still be found, but it is no longer easy. The result of the post-Conciliar catastrophe has been as our friend above said, but it has also created a race of Catholic guerilla fighters of which we are the second and third generation, and who are now going to be called upon to carry the fight forward. The ferocity with which they have acquired and kept the Faith is going to be required by everyone.
There is no more cheap grace to be had for tuppence in all the shops. Now if you want to know what is true, you have to go looking for it, develop your mind and knowledge and exercise your intellect and will, which faculties had become nearly atrophied in the immediate pre-conciliar period. Now just getting to know what you need to know to be a merely practising Catholic requires almost heroic effort of will and powers of investigation, as well as taking the trouble to learn to tell the truth from the sweet lies nearly all the parishes and priests are peddling. Heroism has, essentially, become our baseline.
And then you have to exercise those muscles of will to hold on to it as the World turns on you like a horde of screaming savages. In a situation like this one, the people who know and hold to the Faith are the Charles Atlas of the Catholic world. And it is going to be true very soon that they are going to require all that strength to stand up to what is coming at us.
Excerpted from Hilary White, “The Fantasy of Bitterness“, Orwell’s Picnic (blog), April 9, 2015.