Quo Vadimus? - Where are We Headed?
December 1, 1998
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
With only 12 months to go before we enter into the third millennium, it is reasonable to wonder where we are going. Since the beginning of John-Paul II's pontificate in 1978, he has not ceased to present the year 2,000 AD as being about to usher in a great new age for Church and world. He may be right, but certainly not in the way he thinks.
Q: Why may he be right?
A: Because by this end of the 20th century, Western liberalism has broken down, as it was bound to do, because of the disintegration built into its principles. Whatever new integration follows will have to be so different that anyone will call it a new age.
Q: Where do you see the break-down?
A: At ground level, a friend wrote two years ago from New York City, "The people in the streets are misled and show their hatred and arrogance. One of them said to my wife, 'It is nothing personal, but we'll have a battle in the streets. There'll be bloodshed'. New York City seems to be a powder-keg waiting for someone to light the fuse". Another friend from the Eastern United States has noticed for years that the anger is coiled up inside people like a snake ready to strike. They have for years been taught, and have accepted, to live for material goods which leave their nevertheless spiritual souls deeply unsatisfied, and now they look like losing even their material goods.
Q: How is that possible? The New York stock market dipped in the summer but soared again in the autumn!
A: As much as an engine depends upon oil circulating, an economy depends on money circulating. But modern money has two serious problems. Firstly, it consists merely in paper or book-entries or electronic blips which can only serve for money as long as people have confidence in them. With backing by gold deliberately discredited, that confidence could easily evaporate. And secondly, modern money is brought into existence as debt with interest on it, which can only be paid back by ever increasing debt, which must come to a halt when people or nations are "maxed out" in debt. That point is being reached. This autumn the US Federal Reserve saved public confidence by drastic interest rate cuts putting more funny money into circulation, but this has merely delayed the day of reckoning which, the longer it is delayed, the worse it will be. Insiders know that the system is on the brink of seizing up, like an engine without oil.
Q: But cannot the politicians rescue the economic system?
A: It is the immorality of the politicians and of the peoples voting for them so as to get a free lunch, which produced this doomed economic system in the first place. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Only dishonesty can pretend there is. But the American people today so rejoice in dishonesty that they reelected as President and now refuse to impeach, a man whom they all know to be a liar, an adulterer and a perjurer, and many hold that those are not the worst of his crimes. What do the people care, so long as he seems to be delivering the material goods? And if the people get disgusted with their own politicians, who do they turn to? Here in Minnesota, they just elected a former professional wrestler as governor! Maybe he will do better than the professional politicians!
Q: But what does this break-down of economics and politics have to do with religion?
A: Everything. As politics govern economics, so religion governs politics. The turning away from God generates the dishonesty (no Ten Commandments) and the materialism (what else is there to live for?). That is why the same media that trashed Presidents Nixon and Reagan for comparatively minor misdemeanors now shield and protect a President for major crimes, an incredible contradiction until one recalls that the former two put brakes (or half-brakes) on the destruction of Christendom, while the latter has his foot hard down on the accelerator. It is the City of God, in however broken-down a form, against the City of Man. Only this religious perspective can explain many contradictions, for instance why, similarly, the feminists loved the “molested” Anita Hill whose lies denounced a conservative, whereas they abandoned the molested Paula Jones whose truth-telling denounces this President. For liberals, the end justifies the means. All contradictions are justified in the war on God.
Q: Where does this break-down of sanity and morals end?
A: If God does not intervene, then like in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, good men will finally not be able to live in peace even within their own homes, but bad men will be breaking down their doors, etc. (Gen. XIX, 4-10). And just as the ancient Roman Empire succeeded in pinning on Christians the blame for its own misdeeds and misfortunes, so the liberals and their media are now beginning to blame the "religious right" for the consequences of their own criminal folly, and the corrupt people will rejoice in having such a scapegoat.
Q: Please, can we have some good news?
A: Actually, the good news is that the news is so bad!
Q: What on earth do you mean?
A: If wallowing in mud worked for modern man and made him happy, that would suggest he is a pig. If it does not work but makes him unhappy, that suggests that man is not meant to live like a pig. Thank goodness the modern world does not work!
Q: I suppose you will say that Vatican II was modern man "pigging out" inside the Catholic Church?
A: That is right. This autumn one of the major American media (PBS) broadcast a nearly two-hour program on the Second Vatican Council. Cardinals, bishops, priests and large numbers of laymen and laywomen were interviewed, one after another, mostly of course to tell how wonderful the Council was. They were pathetic. Practically none of them mentioned or seemed to think of God! They have lost their Faith and lost their way.
Q: But did not something like Vatican II have to happen inside the catholic Church in mid-20th century? Had not the Church become for instance too clericalist and legalist, too centered on priests and too bound up with laws?
A: That is a good question. There was a real problem which called for a real solution. It was given a false solution by Vatican II.
A: By the 1950's, the substance of Catholicism had been for a long time draining out behind the appearances of the Church. The true solution would have been to put back the substance - easier said than done! The solution of Vatican II - easily said and done - was to pull down whatever appearances were standing, and that process is still going on. However, to be fair to Vatican II, the problem of Catholic appearances without Catholic substance had been building up over a long time, so that something like it had to happen. It is no use pretending that Vatican II was just an unhappy accident which we can get over by rebuilding the Catholicism of the 1950's.
Q: How far back does the problem go?
A: Plus or minus, 700 years. The Middle Ages (500 1,500 AD) had their moments of darkness which the Church's enemies seize on to be able to dismiss those ages as "Dark Ages", but that was nevertheless the time when the Church most filled the world with the light of Christ. As the Middle Ages declined, so the rebellion of Protestantism broke out and the Catholic Church began her magnificent rearguard action with the Counter-Reformation, but Vatican II was like the breakdown of the Counter-Reformation. That is why John Paul II is quite right that the Church must move into a new age, but he is quite wrong in thinking that the new Catholic age will be built on the principles of Vatican II, which are intrinsically godless.
Q: How can you say that the Counter-Reformation has broken down? How can the Catholic Church break down?
A: Of course the Catholic Church is in her essence unchanging and imperishable, but at various times in history, the living Church adopts various modes. The Counter-Reformation mode presupposed, and relied upon, a heritage of faith and morals left over from the Middle Ages, a heritage steadily eroded down the following centuries and now virtually exhausted. To this extent the believers in Vatican II are right: Church and world are now so out of joint that the Church must enter a new age. Only, it will never be the New Age of the modernists' globalist and godless dreams, to be entered into and baptised by the Catholic Church changing essentially and beyond all recognition. "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away", says Our Lord (Lk. XXI, 33).
Q: So the followers of Vatican II are wrong in wanting to change the Church's essence, whereas the followers of Catholic Tradition would be wrong if they did not want her to change even her mode?
A: Correct. All grave heresies derive their power from some truth, for instance the oneness of Christ's person is the force behind the great heresy that He has only one nature. The truth that serious change had to come in the sclerosed Church of the later 201 century is the force behind Vatican II and behind the terrible errors of, for instance, Cardinal Ratzinger and John-Paul II.
Q: How dare you speak of terrible errors of the reigning Pope and of his Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith?
A: By reading what they write! As for Cardinal Ratzinger, the English translation just appeared in the U.S. of "Milestones", his memories of the first 50 years of his life. He shows himself there to be a highly intelligent, "pious" and "nice" man, but at the same time he shows that modern errors have such a grip on his thinking that he has no idea what Catholicism is about! The heart may be "sweet", but the head is rotten. Piously one may hope God will judge him on his heart, but meanwhile with his head he is quite unable to defend the Faith, which is his official function!
Q: And what, pray, is your evidence of the Pope's "terrible errors"?
A: Also just appeared recently in English translation (Angelus Press) is the third volume of Prof. Johannes Dormannn on John-Paul II's Theological Way to Assisi. It analyzes the Pope's 1981 Encyclical "Dives in Misericordia", on God the Father. Did you know that the prodigal son's conversion consists in his realization, thanks to his father's welcoming him back, that he has been a good fellow, full of human dignity, all along? Sin? Forget it! Repentance? Forget it! All men are good and will go to Heaven, whether they know it or not, whether they want to or not! Conversion is just the becoming aware of one's inalienable human dignity.
In German has also recently appeared Prof. Dörmann's fourth volume in the same series, on the Pope's Encyclical of 1987 on the Holy Ghost, "Dominum et Vivificantem". It is equally hair-raising (there is no other word). Not only does the Holy Ghost not proceed from the Son (Photian heresy), but also the Son proceeds in a way from the Holy Ghost. What for? No doubt, so that the religion of the Son (Catholicism) will be merely one amongst a variety of lawful religions all proceeding, in a way, from the Holy Ghost! That is what Vatican II virtually taught (Decree on ecumenism), and what this Pope actually put into practice, notably at Assisi.
Q: Is Prof. Dörmann arguing that this Pope is in his encyclicals transforming the three persons of the Holy Trinity?
A: Yes, and the best proof that Prof. Dörmann is correct is the actions of John-Paul II, eg. the series of interreligious meetings which merely started with the Assisi event of October, 1986.
Q: Does this Pope know what he is doing?
A: Some people think he must do, because he is an educated man and thoroughly knew true Catholic doctrine before Vatican II. However, other people say that he was not educated but miseducated before Vatican II, having plunged, like Cardinal Ratzinger, into modern philosophy which bent both their minds clean out of shape and falsified all their subsequent studies of doctrine. Before all these neo-modernists flew into the cloud, they could see, and when they flew into the cloud their guardian angels must have been flashing red lights and sounding alarms in their cockpits, but, once they were inside the cloud, they became blind and were flying blind from then on.
Q: Are you saying then that this Pope is not to blame for now flying blind?
A: No, because not only must his guardian angel have warned him before he flew into neo-modernism, but also now God must, logically, be offering all kinds of graces to His one and only Vicar to fly His Church out of the cloud, and that Vicar must be spurning those graces in order to be so obstinately flying onwards in the same cloud as he is doing.
Q: But can nobody tell the Pope what he is doing?
A: Archbishop Lefebvre tried to tell both Pope Paul VI and Pope John-Paul II that they were going seriously wrong, but neither would listen. After all, of all the Cardinals and thousands of other Bishops, half tell John Paul II that he is horribly conservative, the other half tell him he is wonderfully conservative. How could he take seriously the lone voice, or with Bishop de Castro Mayer, lone voices, telling him that in his principles he is not conservative at all? Pope John-Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger must more or less politely laugh any time anyone suggests they are not Catholic - "But we are the heads of the Church!" Our best information is that John-Paul II completely ignores the Traditional movement. It has for him no significance at all. He is wholly occupied with preparing, so to speak, the Assisi Millennium.
Q. But won’t the series of earthquakes virtually devastating Assisi in 1997 have told John-Paul II anything?
A: The "loving God" of John-Paul II is not any God who would use natural disasters to warn or punish men.
Q: Then how can the Lord God get through to him?
A: Either by an overwhelming grace which Catholics could obtain by their prayers if there were enough of them to mourn for the stricken Church and to hunger and thirst for righteousness. Or, if too many Catholics will prefer their inalienable dignity and guaranteed salvation to mourning and hungering and thirsting, then by a major Chastisement, of which Our Lady is meant to have warned us many times in this century, and which makes a great deal of sense, even if the Church has so far abstained from approving all these warnings.
Q: But why does a major Chastisement make so much sense?
A: Precisely because the mass of Catholic churchmen are so sunk into neo-modernism that, short of a miraculous turn-around on their part, nothing less can save the Church. Also, in today's state of mankind, nothing could bring so many souls to their knees as a major Chastisement.
Q: Still, why did the Lord God allow His churchmen to get into such a mess in the first place?
A: Because He so respects our human dignity, in the real sense, that He insists upon allowing us to make free use or misuse of our free-will, and that includes His own churchmen. He will never allow them to go so far as to destroy His Church, but He can certainly make use of them to purge His Church, which is what is now happening.
Q: So in the end, the Immaculate Heart of Mary will triumph, as she promised at Fatima in 1917?
A: Yes, but not sentimentally. Rather, following on a major Chastisement, as said, insofar as it is hard to see what else could clear the way, and followed by the arrival of the Antichrist.
Q: Now having said what this new age of Church will not be like, can you say what it will be like?
A: Some prophecies say it will be the greatest triumph of the Catholic Church in all her history, proportional to the greatest distress ever in which we see her today. If we can reasonably imagine a large part of mankind perishing in the Chastisement, we can also imagine how deeply the survivors will have re-learned the fear of God, almost forgotten today even amongst the best of men. From that salutary fear will spring up in men's hearts a true love of God which will soar above the false dilemma, dead Tradition or live heresy. Everything these survivors do will naturally be both faithful to Tradition and full of life, in modes we will then instantly recognize to be Catholic but on a scale we can hardly now imagine.
Q: But if this new age of the Church will be so glorious, how will the Anti-Christ arrive?
A: At La Salette in 1846 Our Lady said that 25 years of plentiful harvests would make men forget the ravages of sin. At that point it will take very little time to rebuild all the distracting gadgets of today's materialism because they will not need to be re-invented but only remembered.
Q: Have you a time-table for these events?
A: No way. The Lord God is enormously patient, but when He strikes, it could be swift. At a sheer guess, the reign of the Anti-Christ might be in about 60 years' time, but that date is only to provoke thought. The real date is God's secret.
Q: And where does the Society of St. Pius X fit into this cosmic drama?
A: As the Counter-Reformation systems of the Catholic Church are, in a manner of speaking, shutting down in the crisis merely precipitated by Vatican II, so Catholics are enveloped in darkness and cold. The SSPX is like an emergency power system designed to provide minimal light and warmth for Catholic souls until the main power is turned on again. Or, the SSPX is like the pilot-light in a stove. It can do no cooking to speak of, but its function is to stay lit to enable cooking to be done when the gas is turned on again. Or, the SSPX is like the guardian of a sacred deposit entrusted to it for safe keeping: the Catholic Mass and priesthood threatened all around with destruction for a mysterious period of time. Or, as the only world-wide Catholic organisation of priests keeping the integral Catholic faith, the SSPX may prove to be the back-bone of the hyphen joining the pre-Chastisement to the post-Chastisement Church. Or, the SSPX is like the ugly fat man anchoring the end of a tug-of-war line - nobody tugging on his side loves him but they all need him. Or...
Q: Enough images! Does the SSPX claim there is no salvation outside the SSPX?
A: No, because God has allowed it to stay too small in numbers to reach directly more than relatively few souls. Rather, He wishes it to give witness to Catholic Tradition, by which it indirectly serves an enormous number of souls. So what the SSPX does claim is that there is no salvation outside of that Tradition to which it presently gives witness.
Q: But aren't many SSPX priests (and bishops) somewhat young?
A: As modest as the SSPX must be concerning the persons who compose it and their talents, so uncompromising must it be concerning the Truth which they serve. As Our Lord said (Jn. VII, 16), the Society's doctrine is not the Society's doctrine. It is the Father's doctrine.
Q: But we keep hearing that the SSPX is infiltrated, that this or that prominent member is a Freemason.
A: Such rumours need not to be heeded until there is serious evidence of an infiltration, as opposed to groundless suspicion, which is forbidden by Catholic charity. The presence of Judas Iscariot among the Apostles teaches us there may always be infiltrators. The problem is not so much to identify them, which God alone can unfailingly do. The problem is rather to have an organisation healthy enough to carry them so that they will not do too much harm before being discovered.
Q: And what can layfolk do to help the Church in this her hour of need?
A: Duty of state, duty of state, duty of state. There is no substitute for duty of state. If every man would do his duty, said Pope St. Pius X, the world would not be in its present trouble. Catholics are liable to look for things glamorous or difficult to do, but glamour is deceptive and there is difficulty enough in keeping God's Commandments in daily life today. Daily duty is humble and humbling, always there, and in plentiful supply. Done with a supernatural intention and in the state of grace, it unfailingly merits in proportion to the love of God with which it is done. Here is how the Church will be rebuilt, one person or one day at a time, and, of course, by quiet steady unceasing prayer.
Q: Nevertheless, did Archbishop Lefebvre have any particular recommendations for the rebuilding of the Church?
A: When his successor as SSPX Superior General, Fr. Franz Schmidberger, asked him a year or two before he died how the SSPX could reach souls today, the Archbishop replied, by schools and by the Spiritual Exercises. Notice how both these apostolates are hard work, reliable means of long-term sanctification, reaching into the soul. The Archbishop did not mention sensational actions, or publicity campaigns.
Q: And how much should we concern ourselves with the future or with the Millennium?
A: Up to a certain point and not beyond. For instance a family father must provide for his family as best as he can foresee, but nobody can foresee all that is going to happen in the next few years. For whatever we cannot foresee, God requires of us to trust Him, and not to worry. It insults a father when his children do not have confidence in him. On the contrary, when children show the right kind of trust in their father, he has the utmost difficulty in letting them down. Our Heavenly Father is omnipotent. No difficulty can make Him disappoint souls that trust in Him. As far as the future is concerned, the end of the Ambrosian Hymn is the last word:
"Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
May Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, according as we have placed our hope in Thee.
In Thee, O Lord, have I placed my hope, let me never be put to confusion".
Dear Friends and Benefactors, the seminary has successfully completed another calendar year, with your support. We have at present 36 seminarians including six who entered the seminary this last September, and two who should be ordained priests this coming June 26. We are always grateful for your support. To express that gratitude is the purpose of this letter, even if it does not always say so.
Enclosed is a repeat flyer of Seminary tapes, audio and video. They contain solid doctrine of great value to understand the depth the Catholic Church's resistance to modern errors, for instance the stand taken by the Society of St. Pius X against Vatican II. These tapes must make substantial and lasting Christmas presents!
Professors and seminarians will be praying for you to have a Happy Christmas and Happy New Year.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+ Richard Williamson