Ah, the soundbite. That idol of the Modern Age.
The title above is a sorry attempt at such.
Unfortunately—or rather not!—the most important things of life are not easily captured in soundbites.
And this website is an attempt to grapple with that which seems most important to my wife Kim and to myself.
Thus, it is difficult indeed to sum this website’s purpose up in a soundbite! What follows then, dear Lector, is a very personal attempt to bring together some diverse threads of this website.
Whether these threads have to do with His Sacred Heart, Catholic Tradition, the New Age or the ice cold threat of secular materialism, here I attempt to do what I cannot do in a soundbite: pull the threads all together …
Moreover, you will find this particular entry strewn – even littered! – with links to other places on the site. For if you, Lector, are interested, you can easily find some of the Key Posts wherein the various threads are more fully explored. Moreover, even the videos and book advertisements here have been specially chosen to try to illumine the nature of this site—which as I say is not easy.
To Guard Catholic Tradition
Easy or not, though, this site shares features with other traditional sites which seek to guard the Catholic Mystery. We are very concerned here with the traditional liturgy as well as the invasion of the Church by a subtle materialistic and worldly spirit.
As I recently suggested in a long review (here) of Canon Ripley’s This is the Faith, there is now downright embarrassment to speak of the Catholic Mystery in straightforward, unambiguous language.
Whether this is speaking of preternatural evil or Supernatural Glory matters not. If the non-material aspects of Creation are not outright dismissed, they are relativised or dressed up in equivocating terms.
When we subtract or relativise these dimensions, what we end up with is materialism. Whether this materialism is de facto or de jure is less important.
The modern world has been afflicted by such reductionist materialism for centuries. For centuries, the Catholic Church held out – valiantly. No longer.
This is why I believe Ripley’s book is so important. It can remind us of a relatively recent time (1951) when Catholicism refused point-blank to kowtow to often subtle, but insidious materialism.
Just as it refused to kowtow to what our present Holy Father (Benedict XVI) has called the “Dictatorship of Relativism”.
Thank God, the Holy Father sees this vividly. This is most evident in another book The Ratzinger Report, which is also reviewed here.
Here the man who is now our Holy Father also warns against the Catholic Church becoming a CLONE of Protestantism …
I like doing book reviews. They are an opportunity to point people towards thinkers that seem important to me. Moreover, in reviewing books, one can readily engage with the author’s thought. (One is likewise free to quote the author at some length, without concern for copyright issues.)
Thus you can find numerous reviews (with quotes) posted here steadily. I hope these point people in directions, which I think are not only important, but even crucial.
But I would be less than frank with you, dear Reader, if I did not admit that I hope to sell some copies too!
Towards a Traditional Catholic Apostolate
Now we believe this site is the beginning of some sort of traditional Catholic apostolate. As I indicated in my very first blog entry here, it is being born in difficult circumstances. That has not changed. And even a little income through the sale of books helps.
Yes there has been a rocky beginning and things remain rocky. But to return to my attempt to pull the pieces together…
There are some ways that this site clearly differs from many traditional Catholic approaches.
Any of you regularly following us will readily realise there is much here about the New Age.
This is obviously because Kim and myself are converts from the New Age. It seems to me I can help make reparation for nearly two decades of New Age activity by trying to raise consciousness of the dangers of the New Age is and how it differs from the Faith.
In particular, I want to do this in ways that are not necessarily obvious and yet seem important.
I also try to do this in places that are not always obvious. For example, a personally significant piece is my review of Graham Greene’s masterpiece about the Faith, The Power and the Glory.
This is not only the greatest novel I have ever read, it is – as I have tried to say in a rather offbeat way – a tragedy that highlights how very, very different the Catholic vision is from feel-good upbeat New Age denial.
Responding to the New Age Danger
In any event, traditional Catholics rarely engage the New Age movement, in my experience.
Yet there is poignant irony here. Much of the reason I remained in the New Age movement as long as I did, hinges on the fact that Traditional Catholicism was completely and utterly invisible to me.
That is to say: a non-materialistic, non-embarrassed Catholic Christianity, which celebrated its Mysteries as Mysteries, was totally off my radar screen.
But New Agers are drawn to Sacred Mystery. In my experience, they generally find things like evangelical Protestantism dull indeed. A Catholic Clone of Protestantism is not likely appeal much either.
But I wonder what many New Agers might feel if they stumbled into a Latin Mass with a priest who was not afraid to speak openly of the Mysteries of Trans-substantiation and Angels, among other Mysteries as well . . .
Certainly had I found such a thing twenty years ago, I would have scarcely believed it. I imagine I would have been jolted from my sleep and my life might have taken a different course …
As it happened, it took the unusual and anonymous book Meditations on the Tarot to wake me from my slumber.
And this is why, despite its problematic approach in certain secondary respects, I believe that its primary message is not only critical – but perhaps delivered in the ONLY way many a New Ager can hear it. Much more will be said in this regard.
For now, I will simply say the book has nothing to do with telling fortunes via tarot cards – and remark that the anonymous author’s primary message involves a breathtaking reverence for the Mystery of Calvary that floored me.
The author also defends not simply the Church, but in many ways, a very traditional Catholicism indeed.
He writes of the crying need for Tradition, Hierarchy and Dogma including the dogma of Papal Infallibility. He treats the Mysteries of the Church with veneration. The Reformation is continuously regarded as tragic.
He does not shy away from speaking of the “Lutheran heresy” and he speaks St Ignatius of Loyola as having atoned for the sin of Calvin. He also has nothing good at all to say of Vatican II.
As an erstwhile liberal New Ager, I once found this latter aspect of his writing very troubling indeed!
It took me years to see that the author’s critique of the Reformation and regard for Loyola pointed to something of crucial importance.
As he clearly stated, the anonymous author regarded as critically important that stream of European civilisation, which stayed faithful to Rome.
We refer here to what might be called the Tridentine Church. This is to speak of the Church, which resisted the Reformation, at least until Catholicism began to aspire to be a clone …
The anonymous author saw this tendency all too clearly. And this is why I believe he has nothing good to say of Vatican II.
Yes: this author led me to the Tridentine Catholic Church, which still had the courage to be Catholic. Here is why although superficially his book might look New Age – it can actually help save New Agers.
Traditional Catholic France
However, other things besides Meditations on the Tarot were to lead me in the same direction. These include a life-changing period in France, the ruins of traditional Catholic France.
In France, I understood far, far better why an anonymous Russian author who never lived in any French-speaking country wrote his book in French …
In France, I beheld also the wellsprings of the spirituality of the Sacred Heart. And my life changed as a result. Once upon a time, Tridentine traditional Catholicism was dominated by the spirituality of the Cor Jesu Sacratissimum.
As I say, the wellsprings for that were in a very traditional Catholic France. I have recently posted another lengthy, idiosyncratic book review, which speaks to both this and to my life-changing experience in that country. It is The Life of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque by Bishop Bougaud (here).
Pulling this together, what do we have so far? A website that seeks to guard the Catholic Tradition, particularly that of the Sacred Heart and the Tridentine Church, which is indebted to Catholic France and peculiarly concerned with the New Age and an anonymous dead Russian author (who I confess feels very living to me).
But this site differs from most Traditionalist sites in still further ways. For example, you will also find engagement with books of a very arid and secular nature.
Arid Secularism and Traditional Catholicism
Unfortunately, I find it necessary to grapple with such books. For instance, something that has been enormously helpful to me is an admittedly Freudian, reductionist, faithless text entitled France and the Cult of the Sacred Heart.
But the research in this book is incredible. Unparalleled by anything I know in English. It can introduce a very important story, which lies at the heart of this project. Thus, the book is reviewed here.
I feel something similar about Charles Taylor. In many ways, his book A Secular Age suffers from subtle materialism – though not as badly as the former. But it is a masterpiece of research and acute insight. In powerful ways, Taylor points out the lie that secularism is some neutral, harmless thing that we all just naturally evolved into.
Reading Taylor only sharpened my long-held conviction that secularism necessarily involves a materialistic ideology being ruthlessly imposed on us, century by century.
Yes, Taylor does a better job than many traditional Catholics in making this lucid. Though the very traditional Charles A. Coulombe also serves the same end – admirably – for the American context in his Puritan’s Empire (reviewed in a lengthy and personal way here).
It is critical to understand these things. People argue that to strip Christian tradition, from public discourse is to “free” people from being “imposed upon”.
For example, this is the reason that some will tell you that it is better to call a Christmas tree a “holiday tree” in public. And local government in Birmingham, England proposed renaming Christmas as Winterval because Tradition was seen as imposition!
All too few understand that these supposedly “neutral” terms carry very much their own impositional ideology.
And both Taylor and Coulombe do very much to show how secularism involves a materialistic ideology constructed and imposed century upon century, which is very far from being neutral …
Yes for reasons that Coulombe especially, makes clear, we are now being pressured to say “happy holidays” instead of confessing our belief in Jesus Christ. Shop assistants in America risk their jobs for not kowtowing to this …
Meanwhile one can undertake a 50 billion dollar advertising programme to brainwash young and old alike that a brand is vital to their existence and no-one bats an eyelid …
Capitalism is another thing that we at this site are very concerned by. Here there seems to often be a split between European and American conservatives. Some Americans regard unfettered corporate libertarianism as somehow going hand-in-hand with their conservativism. (“Corporate libertarianism” is a good phrase I owe to this author.)
Frankly we are horrified not simply by the untold physical and mental agony it causes, but also by the clear destruction of tradition it entails. I touch on the latter point somewhat here.
There is also the matter of the environment and global warming. I refer to the Holy Father’s grave warnings on this here.
And there are still further threads I have hardly mentioned. In this regard I might point you to Kim’s piece here regarding Our Lady and the Rosary. I also like very much this piece by her on the liturgy. (The Elvis video at the end of this piece is particularly telling!).
There is also a series starting here on Valentin Tomberg’s legal works, which are very much within this stream of traditional thought running counter to the Enlightenment. All of this I want to expand on in time.
On Catholic Ireland
I also hope to expand on the most important matter of Catholic Ireland in time – a place that once resisted secular materialism and lived a Tridentine Catholicism in the most extraordinary ways, even well into the twentieth century . . .
Now all of the above relates to alternative trajectories to the major current trajectory of world civilisation destroying souls and the environment …
But we must stop somewhere! Obviously this entry is strewn with links to other pieces on this site.
Once more, this is because there are no soundbites with which to sum this project up. But for any who are interested, perhaps this entry can help. And again, if you have the patience to follow up some of the links, you can get a fuller picture.
In the end, any single entry is inadequate for a summing up. But I hope to achieve more in a book-length treatment of the above.
This is provisionally entitled: Cor Jesu Sacratissimum: From Materialism and the New Age to the Catholic Mystery. I am doing all I know how to do to get this self-published in the first part of the coming year.
In the next few days, there will be a long extract from the introduction of this book in the Articles.
Hopefully, this long introductory extract will also further serve to pull the pieces together. As I hope this will soon appear in print, I would be very grateful for any comments – either privately to my self or publicly on the site itself.
Again whether privately or publicly, I am very grateful to all of you who have given Kim and myself feedback. It HELPS. Thank you …
Your continued responses will also be very much appreciated. Just forgive me if circumstances mean that I shall be a little slow in replying.
Another thing we would be most grateful for is links made to this site.
As I have indicated, we believe this site is the beginning of some kind of apostolate. We pray, a serious one. Links to this site will make it more visible and we are thankful to all of you have done this for us.
Finally after the long extract appears in the Articles later on this week I may be quiet for a while in terms of weblog entries. However in this period of silence, I will endeavour to respond to any comments posted here.
Still things are not easy and I need something of a breather.
To my mind, this will be coming after four lengthy pieces that I hope speak to the heart of this site.
Again after all of this, your comments would be most appreciated.
What do you make of all of this?
Does it make you happy? Angry? Bored to tears . . . ?
I’d like to know.
Update 2023: Belloc and More
Since this post was written thirteen years ago in 2010, much has changed and much has also stayed the same.
But a brief words about the changes seem in order. Perhaps the greatest one in my own direction at this site reflects my joyous discovery of the great Hilaire Belloc in the summer of 2012. I had known Belloc before—a little. But now I began to devour his books, one after another.
My later entries at this site owe more than I can ever tell you to beloved Belloc.
Another great change has been that I am now a published author with three books from Angelico Press (see advertising details below)
To all this, I might add that the above post was mainly concerned with my own activity at this website rather my wife Kim’s. When we started, I was—by a wide margin—the main contributor here. But Kim started posting more as the years went by.
We also introduced a YouTube Channel to which Kim has contributed in a few videos. Perhaps the most appropiate one to feature here is this autobiographical one, detailing her journey from Atheism to the Sacred Heart of Jesus:
And that, as they say, is that. Thank you, Lector, if you have persevered this ad-littered page to the end—and I hope you will have gained some idea what our work is all about!
Foreword for Monarchy by Roger Buck
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