A deadly sword, a healing hand,
A back that bent beneath its load;
A trumpet voice, a burning brand,
A weary pilgrim on the road.
He stood upon the bridge alone
And Fire and Shadow both defied…in Khazad-dum. (J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings)
Numquam Retro (Never Turn Back, Never Back Down, Never Retreat)
The Society of Ignatians is resolved to combat “to restore the rights of God, the reign of truth, of truth for itself, of truth free from all compromise with error, of truth in its integrity” (Cardinal Billot, Éloge du Cardinal Pie).
Truth is by nature intransigent; it is ever unyielding: to affirm is necessarily to deny its contradiction. But when the truths affirmed are from the depths of Eternity, from the very Mind of the Creator of the universe, and regarding the eternal salvation of souls, then the custodians of these truths must sternly steel themselves to resist any attempt, whether by outright denial or serpentine ambiguity, to infringe on their clarity and strength.
“The doctrinal intolerance of the Church has saved the world from chaos. Her doctrinal intolerance has placed beyond question political, domestic, social, and religious, truths—primitive and holy truths, which are not subject to discussion, because they are the foundation of all discussions; truths which cannot be called into doubt for a moment without the understanding on that moment oscillating, lost between truth and error, and the clear mirror of human reason becoming soiled and obscured.” (Donoso Cortes, Essays on Catholicism, Liberalism and Socialism)
Hence, such unyieldingness is not mere closed-mindedness. It springs from an intellectual honesty and coherence whereby, as a result of careful analysis of the arguments for and against one’s position, and with a sensitive alertness to what is at stake should the truths in question be denied or ignored, one stalwartly faces down whatever opposition presents itself.
Ignatians Resolve to Follow the Saints
As Ignatians we resolve to follow the saints: to close ranks with the intransigence of a St. Athanasius “in a world turned Arian”; to imitate the unyieldingness, clothed in innocence, of a St. Tarcisius and St. Agnes; to emulate the argued and rational inflexibility of a St. Thomas Aquinas and a St. Thomas More. The saints never surrendered to Untruth because they were lovers – and love is always intransigent: only the mediocre, the tepid, and those who have forgotten how to love compromise.
The great evil of the present time consists in “seeking to please God without offending the devil, or, to put it in a better way, to serve the devil without offending God” (Henri Le Floch, Le Cardinal Billot).
Cardinal Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith until 2017, in a recent speech thanked fellow-prelate, Cardinal Robert Sarah, for his courageous witness on behalf of Catholic truths, showing that he is determined “not to cut in half the truth for the sake of a compromise.” The German cardinal concluded: “In the face of God, there is either all or nothing. With God, we have everything, without Him, we are nothing.”
No Compromise Catholicism: What the World Needs
The following are passages from an essay written by a young intellectual, Carl Wolk, who converted in 2012 to Catholicism ( onepeterfive.com/cruciform-catholicism/)
“In Chesterton’s Orthodoxy, he describes the modern mind as a sort of mental illness, and he notes how modern science approaches those with mental illness: “It does not seek to argue with it like a heresy but simply to snap it like a spell.”
To a hypothetical man who thinks himself to be Christ, he asks, “How much happier you would be, how much more of you there would be, if the hammer of a higher God could smash your small cosmos, scattering the stars like spangles, and leave you in the open, free like other men to look up as well as down!”
A vision of health and happiness that is attainable by a simple choice is how to cure a lunatic; and likewise, an uncompromised presentation of right teaching and right action is the only way to cure the modern mind.
Modernity, like lunacy, does not respond to its own language.
For over fifty years now we have been attempting to argue with a madman on his own terms.
When he became Kantian, we became Kantian with him, and we speak of the importance of the universal religious experience rather than the deadly character of original sin.
When he became humanist, we became humanist with him, and we now speak constantly of becoming “fully human” but rarely of becoming “partakers of the divine nature.” When he became socialist, we became socialist with him, and the bishops’ economic thoughts are now more likely to be heard by the public than their teaching on the gravely immoral character of contraception. […]
It may seem foolish to refuse compromise with the world but it is the foolishness of the Cross that justifies sinners. The paradox is that the more the Church attempts to be “relevant” to the world, the less intriguing to the world she will become. Her differences constitute her strength and her appeal. In the long run, the Church will be more interesting as the Mystical Body of Christ or the Kingdom of Heaven than as the “people of God” or a “faith community.” The Church’s rejection of modernity in her doctrine, language, and culture is not a burden but an asset and a weapon for evangelism. If we speak the world’s language, no one will listen to us, for our preaching will fade in with the rest of the white noise projecting from modern culture. Or rather, we will be heard, but not listened to. The credibility of the Church lies in the fact that there is no institution like it. If we absorb contemporary language, philosophy, and culture, we will be just one more interest group, political lobby, or religious denomination. The Church can survive hatred, scorn, and persecution, but it cannot survive ceasing to be unique. Once the Church becomes just another organization, it will go the route of all human organizations.
So rather than be ashamed of dogma, we must proclaim it to the bewildered. There is an objective basis for our tone, our words, our philosophy; we cannot simply discard them at will when we do not think the world will understand them. Language is not neutral; it is not mere clothing that can be draped over any philosophy. Rather, language is shaped by the philosophy that stands behind the culture. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, “As Jerome says, words spoken amiss lead to heresy; hence with us and heretics the very words ought not to be in common, lest we seem to countenance their error.” (Summa Theologica, III, q. 16, a. 8, corpus) To make peace with the times by changing our language is to abandon the Cross. […]
If we speak in a way that suggests all men, if they’re generally good, get to Heaven, then the world will assume this is what we believe and then wonder how lukewarm we must be about the Church’s exclusive claims on salvation. […]
Modern man is craving something – anything! – and the world is giving him nothing. He will not mind if we give him Truth, though it be shrouded in mystery, though our language is not identical to his. He is craving for something to bite into, for something that does not bend but will stand and fight. He is craving for tradition, though he would obstinately deny it. He is craving for liturgy, though he has never seen it. He is craving, above all, for dogma (yes, even for the little rules!). […]
In a deep recess in a forgotten corner of his heart, modern man wants the wild adventure of orthodoxy, and if he is converted, he will rejoice in dogma, liturgy, discipline, and all those things that make the Faith different from the world as a prisoner rejoices when he leaves the prison and enters into the free and open air. We will not convert the modern world by speaking its own language, which is poisoned from within, but by speaking in the Church’s angelic tongue to prisoners who have only heard the languages that come out of Babel. […]
Christ comes not only as a King, but as a rebel against the false prince of this world, and the Church is His holy revolution. […]
It is high time for the return of cruciform Catholicism.” (Carl Wolk, who converted in 2012 to Catholicism ( onepeterfive.com/cruciform-catholicism/)