First, a birthday, belatedly. Yesterday, April 21, the city of Rome celebrated its birthday.

    Rome was founded, tradition holds, on April 21 in the year 753 B.C. by the twin brothers, Romulus and Remus, in the place where they had been suckled by a she-wolf. (link)

    So, let us wish Rome a happy 2,774th birthday, even one day late.

    Second, the importance of Rome.

    For a millennium, Rome, built over centuries by thousands of engineers and centurions, controlled the destiny of all human civilization known to Europe, then it fell into dissolution and disrepair.

    For this reason, we may rightly say, with a certain poetic license, that all of modern European history is fundamentally “a long nostalgia for Rome.”

    A long nostalgia for the restoration of the city that ruled the world, then fell into ruin.

    It is a nostalgia for Rome that all Catholics, as citizens of two realms, one earthly, one heavenly, one material and political, one spiritual and mystical, feel in a double sense.

    We regret the decline and loss of that secular glory that was Rome, at its best (leaving aside for a moment that darker side of Rome, ranging from its approval of slavery as an institution to its flawed emperors to its coarse embrace of cruel gladiatorial combats as acceptable public spectacles).

    Prof. John Foot of University College, London, writes in the Encyclopedia Britannica: “Physically mutilated, economically paralyzed, politically senile, and militarily impotent by the late Middle Ages, Rome nevertheless remained a world power — as an idea. The force of Rome the lawgiver, teacher, and builder continued to radiate throughout Europe. Although the situation of the Popes from the 6th to the 15th century was often precarious, Rome knew glory as the fountainhead of Christianity and eventually won back its power and wealth and re-established itself as a place of beauty, a source of learning, and a capital of the arts.” (link)

    So we have a nostalgia for that civilizing influence that Rome represented as “the City” (“Urbs“) par excellence, an influence for ordered liberty over a vast space comprising many ethnicities and nations — and for that Rome which was the residence, and the resting place, of the first and greatest apostles, St. Peter and St. Paul.

    Thus, Rome is the city of the Caesars… and the city of the successors of the Apostles, the city of the Popes.

    Rome had one function, the Apostles one mission: to bear witness to Jesus Christ. To bear witness to the truth of the life and message and person of Jesus. To hold fast to that truth.

    Pope Benedict’s book Church Fathers “presents the Apostles and their successors, the Fathers of the Church, in all their evangelical vitality, spiritual profundity, and uncompromising love of God.” (link)

    Benedict tells the true story of Christianity’s “against-all-odds triumph in the face of fierce Roman hostility and persecution” — the story of how Rome became the “Eternal City,” not merely one more city in time, albeit a very important one…

    “This rich and engrossing survey of the early Church includes those Churchmen who immediately succeeded the Apostles, the ‘Apostolic Fathers’: Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, Justin Martyr, and Irenaeus of Lyon. Benedict also discusses such great Christian figures as Tertullian, Origen, Cyprian of Carthage, the Cappadocian Fathers, as well as the giants John Chrysostom, Jerome, and Augustine. This book is a wonderful way to get to know the Church Fathers and the tremendous spiritually rich patrimony they have bequeathed to us.” (link)

    So on this day, the day after the birthday of Rome, let us recall the greatness that was Rome, and the greatness that is Rome, and let us pray for the restoration of the Eternal City as a place of “evangelical vitality, spiritual profundity, and uncompromising love of God.” —RM

    P.S. Below is an interesting text, an open letter to Catholic bishops, that I came across by chance on the internet (the open letter is not my own writing and I had nothing to do with its composition).

    The open letter is posted at a website called Catholic Stand (link).

    The website’s subtitle is: “Living the Truth the Church Teaches,” and then adds: “a little Vatican media publication.” In their mission statement, they write: “We seek to further the spirit of charitable discussion. In matters of Church teaching, we tolerate no dissent; but in matters which various opinions may legitimately be held, we tolerate discussion of ideas insofar as they are taken to be intellectual explorations, and not Gospel truths.” (link)

    The open letter is dated April 14, 2021, so, eight days ago, and is entitled “Never Again! An Open Letter to our Bishops.”

    It is signed “Unknown Centurion,” so its author has remained anonymous.

    The text expresses a profound love of the Church, a profound frustration with the Church’s hierarchy, and a profound indignation at the current situation of confusion worldwide regarding many aspects of Church teaching.

    I found reflected in this open letter a sense of that “nostalgia for Rome” about which I am speaking in connection with Rome’s birthday yesterday.

    So I thought it might be of interest to readers of these letters to publish the text here.

    Here below is the full text. (Note: If you would like to support these Letters, even by a gift of the equivalent of a cup of coffee, $2.50, you may do so at this link.)    

Never Again! An Open Letter to our Bishops

    Disclaimer: At Catholic Stand, seek to further the spirit of charitable discussion. In matters of Church teaching, we tolerate no dissent; but in matters which various opinions may legitimately be held, we tolerate discussion of ideas insofar as they are taken to be intellectual explorations and not Gospel truths. 

    Dear Bishops:

    We trusted you.

    We served at your parishes and sat on your committees. We answered your appeals for money. We defended you, even when it was difficult.

    We said nothing when you felt the need to adopt virtually all of the secular social justice issues of the day, issuing statements about temporal matters outside of your divine mandate, while ignoring far greater issues of eternal life and death, for which you are responsible.

    We stood by you when you allowed liturgical laxity and innovation. We believed you when you said the casual, congregation-centered Masses were just as reverent as the Traditional Latin Masses.

    We accepted your decisions even when the only disciplinary measures you employed were against orthodox priests.

    We made excuses for you thinking you were so busy overseeing your bureaucracy and attending meetings that you had no time to teach, sanctify or govern.

    Lack of Remorse

    We even turned the other way when rumors of scandal were whispered about, unwilling to believe them.

    Then after widespread scandals you participated in or allowed to continue through your silence, there was no repentance, no transparency, no resignations, no purification.

    Your collective dishonesty and unwillingness to root out homosexuals, the morally compromised, the pampered, and those who do not believe in the supernatural, have pushed even your biggest supporters to never again be fooled by your lies and hypocrisy.

    You are hiding behind lawyers and insurance companies, protecting your dwindling assets that we and our ancestors paid for. Yet even bankruptcy is no excuse for not doing what is right.

    We no longer trust you because the dioceses and parishes are run by the same people who were directly involved in the clerical conspiracy of silence.

    In nearly three years since the McCarrick scandal, which was not an isolated event, you have not cleaned house, nor demonstrated any appetite to deal with the structural secrecy and systemic sodomy within your ranks, while calling out the so-called structural and systemic sins out in the world.

    Sadly, too many of your brother bishops have become mere managers, relying on fallen human wisdom and human solutions, rather than tapping into the supernatural power of the office of Bishop and the infinite grace-giving weapons to which you have been entrusted.

    When we finally begged you, in the face of a pandemic, to keep our Churches open and the sacraments safe and available, you shamefully shut off the spigot of divine graces, agreeing with the government, not God, that the Church is non-essential.

    Your attempts to curry favor with the left who seek to remake you in their image is not merely short-sighted, but suicidal.

    In doing so, you’ve entirely lost the center to the right of a deeply divided Church who are the most faithful and engaged Catholics, who actually go to Mass, and who would have been your most ardent supporters, as they always have been.

    Now, our trust is not in you but in God alone.

    Our Hope is in God

    “Put not your trust in princes: In the children of men, in whom there is no salvation. His spirit shall go forth, and he shall return into his earth: in that day all their thoughts shall perish. Blessed is he who hath the God of Jacob for his helper, whose hope is in the Lord his God” (Psalm 146:2-5).

    Many are learning the faith for themselves, often for the first time, because you didn’t do your job in the first place to catechize and pass on the faith.

    We, who take no oath of loyalty to you, are obedient to the true, timeless teachings of the Church, not your modernist interpretations and secular social justice slant.

    We don’t have to put up with a watered-down brand of “catholicism” anymore, for we can seek out and support the holy, joyful, orthodox pockets of the faith.

    If enough of us attend and encourage reverent liturgies, these parishes will flourish while the ad-libbing, no kneeling parishes will die on the vine.

    We see this pattern with the rapid rise of vibrant, orthodox religious orders centered on the Eucharist, in comparison to those older orders who jettisoned their habits, along with their belief in Jesus, are rapidly becoming extinct.

    Besides, in times when the Bride of Christ is so weakened, we need the supernatural big guns which are reverent and awe-inspiring Masses, well-understood, well-celebrated, and with at least some of the sacred language reserved for God.

    Aside from a much-needed increased supernatural power, parishes, priests and even the bishops will take notice as these flourishing orthodox parishes become authentic Catholic communities, beacons of hope, and emblems of the Catholic resistance.

    Being counter-cultural is not enough — we must, at times, even be counter to the bureaucratic Church.

    This means we must think, speak, pray and act according to the established rituals, traditions, and teachings of our Catholic Faith, not according to the irrational and immoral politically correct mantras of the age, some of which subsist within the Church.

    We should encourage the good parishes and orthodox priests while avoiding the bad parishes.

    We must demand transparency, honesty, fidelity, courage, holiness, and if they refuse, we as children of the light must shine a disinfecting spotlight on what they prefer to remain in the darkness.

    We must engage in what C.S. Lewis called for, a “great campaign of sabotage” against the cowardly and compromised clerics who have caused this Great Apostasy and continue to preside over the decline of the Church with an indifferent, hopeless, hospice mentality.

    A Campaign of Sabotage

    This strategy begins with prayer, followed by awareness and resistance in accordance with the will of God.

    This also means calling you and your brother bishops to be faithful to Christ and reminding you of the eternal consequences of your failure to do so.

    It means praising you when you do the right thing and letting you and others know when you fail to do so, in accordance with Canon 212: “In accord with the knowledge, competence, and preeminence which they possess, they [i.e., the laity] have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and they have a right to make their opinion known to other Christian faithful, with due regard for the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward their pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons.”

    This must, of course, be accomplished first by charitably and respectfully informing the Bishop, followed by non-scandalous modern means of communications with the faithful.

    It means supporting solid religious ministries and organizations, while avoiding those who have abandoned the faith and Christ, letting them know why they don’t deserve our support.

    It may even mean to refuse to obey the bishop’s compromises with the world.

    Such sabotage could even involve the purchasing of closed parishes and staffing them with solid, sidelined, or retired priests.

    It could mean gathering an army of warriors who pray at your chanceries and residences, attending your meetings and ceremonies not to intimidate, but to peacefully pray, to encourage, and to let you know there are thousands more out there who will not simply sit back and accept this disastrous course.

    If you won’t be the courageous guardians of the Body of Christ you were ordained to be, then we will.

    If you refuse to be the generals we need in this spiritual and material battle for souls, then step aside and let someone, who believes in the supernatural, and is willing to assemble an army of the entire Church Militant, utilizing all of the spiritual weapons in the Church’s arsenal, take over.

    If you fail to do the one job you have been given by Christ because you fear the social and mainstream media and the loss of your popularity, then we will be the faithful, outspoken, happy warriors to encourage you and hold you to account when no one else will.

    We will be the united voice of tradition and sacred order amidst the heterodoxy and chaos, the powerful right flank of the Church, and the pillars of iron to stand firm when you get wobbly.

    This assembled army of orthodoxy and charity will no longer be dismissed and demonized by you as disorganized dissenters or random, right-wing, rad-trads.

    We will stand up to these secular forces, having your back if and when you decide to join in the fight.

    If you are merely motivated by fear, not righteousness, then maybe you will fear us more than you fear the spirit of the age.

    If you are motivated by perishable things such as wealth, prestige, or comfort, these can and likely will be taken away, and you may soon experience poverty, disgrace, and discomfort.

    You have clearly demonstrated that you can’t or won’t clean up your own mess.

    Though there are some holy bishops and many solid priests there is no comprehensive plan or even an appetite to address the widespread evil which subsists within your hierarchy.

    Since you’ve proven, time and again, you can’t police yourselves, then the laity must.

    The good priests and bishops will likely appreciate the cover and gladly welcome such a unified effort to turn over the tables they desperately wish they could.

    These holy and courageous clerics can even be an integral part of this necessary purification and renewal, along with other lay diocesan or parish employees who have access to the dark and dirty secrets the Church still insists on hiding.

    With the anonymous reporting provisions, whistleblower protection, and the hidden help of those loyal to God not men, you and your brother bishops will finally be forced to address this ongoing evil, to repent, to show contrition, to call for prayer and sacrifice, to be transparent, to remove bad actors, and even to resign if need be.

    The Church in the current clerical culture of conspiracy and concealment will only be cleansed when devout, orthodox, members of the ministerial and common priesthood team up on the side of Jesus to expose the enemies and cowards within, motivated not by career advancement or settling of scores, but for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

    Please understand, we are not in opposition to the Church we love; we are in opposition to the cowardly men who lead it, and the unfaithful functionaries who, by their secularism, sins, and secrecy have all but shipwrecked the Ark of Salvation.

    We are not just content to complain; we are committed to doing everything in our power, by prayer and sacrifice, by word and action, to restore the Kingdom of God for Christ.

    We will get engaged as you have never seen before.

    The laity will rise up to save the Church, as Archbishop Fulton Sheen predicted and as Apostolicam Actuositatem envisioned, with all the zeal and the courage of Apostolic times.

    We will even teach, train, and give to the Church our sons and daughters as priests, religious, and laymen and women, to finish the job we have started, purifying the Church.

    We, having been awakened from our slumber, see much more clearly and are assembling an army of devout, Catholics to answer the divine mandate, when you, and other Church leaders have abdicated yours.

    When your soul and mine are in eternal jeopardy, not to mention the thousands of souls who have left the Church and remain outside of a state of grace, niceties cannot control.

    Prepare for a new era.

    By: Unknown Centurion

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