I had a little conversation with Adam once and I had mentioned the following:
You know, over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time pondering the role of Christianity in the world and how to resolve it with my intrinsic understanding of eternal truths. I find that the figure is hidden in the mystery of the Crucifixion itself — and I’ve spoken about this to various friends of mine in my circle.
The way in which the Church degenerates and decays over the ages should not be surprising to Christians, but it is. That is because the body of Christ was always destined to die and decayi. The crucifixion is a microcosmii of the era in which “God is dead” because for three days, He was indeed dead; and the decay the Church is undergoing is the same as that of the body of Christ when it was nailed and entombed.
That is the secret and hidden meaning of the crucifixion: that it is happening in macrocosm today in the modern age. The modern age is the first act of the Easter Triduum and this is also why many of the apostles — being unable to understand this mystical death of the Catholic Church — have gone astray denying Christ thrice (as Saint Peter did; the first Pope). Only Saint John, the mystical apostle, the one whom Jesus loved, stayed to the end at the cross, loyal to the body that was dying.
This is the position I wish to emulate; to be the apostle who sees the decay of the Church but does not waver from the decay, because the rest of the exoteric religion still believes like Saint Peter does; e.g. “God forbid, Lord that you should go to Jerusalem and die.” Right now, the Church must go to Jerusalem and die because she is the body of Christ. And since the body of Christ underwent torture and crucifixion so must the Church. So when I see people jeer at the Church and tell her “Stop being so weak; change the world!” I also hear those words from the gospels, “If He is the chosen one, let Him come down from the cross.”
People do not understand that something utterly mystical is happening in the modern age. Just as the modern age is the darkest of all times, so was the crucifixion the darkest time. It is the time when God is dead.
I find this to be a great consolation when most Catholics around me are in a state of frenzied panic about the future of the Church. Like I mentioned, there are those who are presently disillusioned with how the Church is conducting herself in the modern age. Many have turned to schismatic sects in order to “restore” or “preserve” the Church from decay. If only they could recognize Christ who is asking them “quo vadis?” Many see such things as Vatican II as catastrophic wounds on the Church and abandon her as she is weakened by it. But did not Christ even showcase His wounds after His resurrection? Indeed, I find it interesting that many Catholics are so deathly afraid of death and its effects on the body. They often misunderstand “and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail” (Matthew 16:18) as some mortal invincibility. However, Christ showed the world that invincibility from death does not mean avoiding it. “Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it” (Luke 17:33). The Church’s immunity to the gates of Hades does not mean she will not suffer decay.
So does this mean we should abandon the Church to her fate? No. Not at all, but who is truly abandoning the Church? Surely it is not I who remains loyal to the unbroken succession despite all the moral decay in her ranks. Surely it is not I who adheres to all the councils even if they seem anti-traditional. Surely it was not Saint John who stood at the cross even while that beautiful body was nailed and became ugly. Yes, beauty became ugly on the cross. That same paradox is present in an infallible deposit of faith experiencing the decay of modernity. Yet so few can see this and so few saw this during Good Friday. It is no wonder that many so called “traditional” or “conservative” or “faithful” Catholics scoff at the ugliness of the modern Church and go so far as to disobey her. I am reminded of my one friend who ignores bishops’ decrees to stand during the Agnus Dei. Perhaps they had forgotten that “obedience is better than sacrifices” (1 Samuel 15:22). Sure, I am with them in decrying the ugliness of modern church buildings, lax practices, and appalling seminaries etc., but, like Saint John, I hope to endure that ugliness by looking at it rather than running. After all, it was to the Apostle who could endure such ugliness in the body of Christ that the guardianship of Mary was awarded. What greater honour could a Catholic receive?
Therefore, it is not the Church that must be saved, but ourselves. It is not that Christ should have remained eternally beautiful to us, but we who must see with the eyes of faith to accept the ugliness of Christ dying. It was not Christ who needed to come down from the cross, but we who, like the good thief, should have accepted ours.
In order to head off misunderstanding (as many heresy-sniffing, ossified “traditionalists” are wont to do), I must be clear that inaction is not the solution to the Church’s woes. My comments are merely to make the faithful aware that abandoning the Church in her modern death throes by arrogantly secluding themselves in “traditionalist” societies is an act similar to the apostles fleeing from Calvary. Even then, I don’t blame them since the gospels already made it clear that the apostles were rehabilitated later. Indeed, many moderns are not in the proper spiritual caste in order to endure the rigours of bearing witness to the ugliness of the Novus Ordo and participating in it. Either they blindly accept it as conforming to their bourgeois or prole tastes or, otherwise, they decry it and avoid it without accepting the opportunity to be ad calvariam. Indeed, to “ride the tiger” of modern Catholicism is very much the opposite of inactivity. For those who are unable to do such a thing, striving and working for the return of a more traditional society so that the Church may flourish is a noble and necessary task. This post was merely to point out that one should not place their faith in accomplishing that task, but in the majesty of Christ surviving even failure.
Thus, whether one fights or contemplates the ugliness, the path is to await the Resurrection and have absolute faith that just as Christ’s body was raised from the dead, so, too, will The Body of Christ being the Church (1 Corinthians 12:27) be raised.
i The idea of the body “decaying” is actually a mistake on my part as my good friend Lawrence points out in the comments. Though it does not change the overall message of the post considering it deals with the physical trauma afflicted unto the body, the distinction here is still important. I have kept the original text instead of editing it in order to maintain the integrity of my initial musings in conversation form despite refining it ex post facto.
ii It must be said that my usage of microcosm and macrocosm both here and in the following lines is meant only to be understood as temporal magnitude where the time of Christ is “smaller” than the eras of the Church. However, it is, upon retrospect, probably more appropriate to say that the crucifixion is the macrocosm and the history of the Church the microcosm in spiritual terms. Either way, the reader ought to be cautious with my wording here and understand my nuance lest more reductive elements misread my intentions.