Christianity is Dead

Christianity is Dead

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.

9 thoughts on “Christianity is Dead

  1. There’s a reason that my blog is titled “ad calvariam.” We need to look and lead ourselves “to Calvary.” Through witnessing such a great tragedy, we can come to know the whole struggle of human existence. The Church is most certainly in a time of crisis; one does not need to look further than the current Pontiff. But, to run away and hide is tantamount to not believing in the power of God. We must have faith. St. Longinus, upon beholding the dead body on the cross, said “Truly this man was the Son of God.” It was not by Christ’s deeds and miracles that he proved his Godhood, but by the Crucifixion and Resurrection. The Church, then, will undergo its own decay to be tempered by its encounter with the forces of darkness and return triumphant, revealed as the true Body of Christ. The faithful must recognize the problems of the modern Church without fear and trepidation in order to pick up the pieces and lay the foundation for a Restoration. The Body was laid in a tomb, not left out to rot for the vultures. I pray that Her suffering is swift and Her return glorious.

    Excellent article.

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  2. Thank you for such an interesting read. Allow me to share my thoughts.

    Note on Christ’s death and decay:
    I know this is nitpicking, but because of my background I have to say this:
    According to Aquinas, the “Divine power preserved Christ’s body from putrefying.” (ST III, 51, 3). Also according to the Gospel of John (e.g., Jn 11:39), the body decays on the fourth day, and Christ rising from the dead on the third day suggests no corruption of the body. So, yes Christ did indeed die, but not necessarily decay.

    Mystery of the Church:
    I believe the Church is multi-dimensional, as is most complex things in the world. And therefore, there are different models or ways in understanding the Mystery of the Church (as proposed by the late Cardinal Avery Dulles), such as institutional, mystical communion, sacramental, servant, herald, and community disciples. For example, Catholics may at times emphasize the Church as institution (formal organization of the ordained) as opposed to Evangelicals who at times emphasize the Church as herald or proclaimer of the Word of God. Hence Catholics will talk more about Papal authority than Evangelicals who prefer to talk about the acceptance of Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior.

    That being said, when you talk about Christians who abandon the Church, what aspect are they indeed abandoning? The institution? The Mystical Communion? Or even Servant? An extreme example are the sexual abuse victims who distrust the priesthood, not attend Liturgy, and yet remain Catholic. Are they abandoning the institution or the mystical communion? And are they justified for leaving the Church after their treatment by particular priests (obviously not all priests are sexual abusers)?

    I love your conclusion, “….just as Christ’s body was raised from the dead, so, too, will the Body of Christ (the Church).” Just as Christians die to themselves in baptism to be reborn in Christ, perhaps so is the Church in the process of purging only to be renewed in Christ. The Paschal Mystery of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection is the model of the Christian life.

    I know this article is about faith and hope in Christ and the Church, but what do you think is the direction of the mystical transformation taking place in the Church? What aspects of the Church? Is it visible? Or invisible? But I do know you like the paradoxical Gospel of John, which both emphasizes signs (1:19-12:50) and deemphasizes them”…blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (Jn 20:29).

    Random note on St. John in the Gospel of John:
    More nitpicking but an interesting note. A careful reading of the Gospel of John suggests that the beloved disciple, who sat next to Jesus [in supper?], who stood by Jesus at the cross, and who outran Peter to the tomb, does not have a name. There is no indication in the Gospel of John itself that the beloved disciple is indeed St. John, but post-Gospel tradition holds it is St. John. Interestingly, it was only after Lazarus was raised from the dead did the beloved disciple appear, which has led some biblical scholars to believe that the disciple is Lazarus. But in the end, we don’t know. If interested, Johannine scholar Raymond Brown, S.S., wrote more about the Beloved Disciple in his book The Community of the Beloved Disciple.

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    1. Lawrence , thank you so much for your reply . It’s this kind of thing that makes me excited to have you reading my writing . Your erudition is , as usual , impeccable and insightful and I’m honoured to be nitpicked ; it’s quite exciting .

      Thank you for pointing out the “decay” portion . Certainly an oversight on my part . Though it would not affect the overall arc of persistence at the ugliness , the ugliness only encompasses the physical trauma affected to the body and not the post-mortem . I’ll add a foot note in the original article to refer to your comment .

      Certainly your insights about the multidimensionality of the Church is indispensable and absolutely relevant . Your encyclopedic addition is an interesting prism to examine the nature of the organism of the Church and would be too large to encompass in this singular topic presently , but should not be forgotten . The question of “what is the Church” has been a topic I have been talking about a lot recently . As for my present topic , I would say that when I speak of “abandonment” I speak merely of the visible , exoteric affiliation (e.g. sedevacantists) . The grey area where it can be institution or it can be the mystical communion etc .

      As for the paradox of John , I would hypothesize that my solution is that he is not so much de-emphasizing signs as he is “occulting” them — a topic which requires its own , large , discussion that I would love to hash out with you . As far as direction is concerned , however , that is an excellent question and one I would have to think more about . The question of what the “Apocalypse” of the Church will look like , like so many of the things you brought up , requires a larger context than these small responses .

      I look forward to speaking to you about these things more in person — in fact , I’m completely excited to . And thank you , again , for stopping by . Let’s hope this won’t be the last time !

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  3. James – English is not my first language so please forgive my writing.

    I am a recent convert to the Faith. I received RCIA in a diocesean parish and did not have a very deep formation. Studying more about Vatican II, the recent call to not convert the Jews, the liberal heretical bishops and priests… supposedly there was no point in me converting because I could have just as easily been saved as an atheist.

    This post has caused me to think very much, I have been considering joining the SSPX but now am rethinking things. Do you have any advice for me? Should I continue to attend NO Masses that are full of liturgical abuses and that teach Modernism? My faith is still weak and I am not sure what to do. I want to place Christ first and foremost and will never betray him.

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    1. Ignatius,

      I decided to reply to your comment in a whole new post so please take a look at the pingback link on this page to “A Mountain of Advice” (or simply revisited the main page) and you’ll find my response there..

      Thank you again for leaving me this comment!

      Like

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