It was 2020, in the depth of COVID lockdowns, when one priest began writing. The unthinkable was taking place: Easter in the United States would be “canceled”. Churches would be shuttered. It was in this environment that Christendom Lost and Found: Meditations for a Post Post-Christian Era was written — a series of meditations about the state of the Church and Christendom, along with thoughts about where we ought to go from here.
Catholics are in jeopardy, and too few are willing to acknowledge where they stand, even as the sand beneath them shifts and slides. In his latest book, Father Robert McTeigue, S.J. implores readers to assess honestly the state of Christian culture and societies that make the West, what once was collectively referred to as Christendom.
Without a sober evaluation of the state of the present, and the direction we are moving, we are doomed to continue our slide. Our enemies will make sure of it. We have enemies throughout the secular world, enemies within the Church, and plenty who would dilute the faith in an attempt to appeal to the world.
Fr. McTeigue refers to that corrupted version of the faith as “Churchianity” and warns, “Churchianity cannot match, much less exceed, the worldliness of the world.” In other words, Churchianity must fail whenever it attempts to de-nature itself to imitate the world, in the hopes of gaining the world’s approval.
It has become trendy to advocate for a kind of Christendom without Christ, by ambiguously lauding “Christian values” while dismissing any part of Christ’s message that might cause controversy; these ‘change agents’ berate as uneducated zealots any disciples of Christ who do not share their enthusiasms. Since Western societies have attempted to refashion themselves without Christ since the French Revolution, it must be admitted that we have relinquished much and gained little. The death toll of such re-organized societies, claiming to cling to reason, is staggering. Further, we have losses of Catholic art, literature, history, and culture.
Yet, where some make the mistake of advocating for a return to a utopian time, a “good old days” where all was in order, McTeigue reminds us of the enduring flaws of every epoch — made certain by man’s fallen nature. With a metered tone, Fr. McTeigue tells of the value in looking to the past with a clear vision, that we might glean what it offers. We must learn the past, to resurrect the best parts of our culture and profit from the most painful mistakes.
Moreover, we owe a debt to those who built Christendom, to receive well their gifts, and to safeguard them sufficiently that they might be inherited by our posterity. This understanding of duty to past and future was, perhaps ironically, a key characteristic of the culture that we now largely overlook, and which McTeigue regards with reverence.
At present, Christian communities are simply disappearing in some areas. In others, they are fragile and heavily dependent on a world that regards the lived faith with contempt. That world (scarcely) tolerates those who merely profess the Faith, for now, as long as the faithful don’t make decisions that prove that they hold it. Hostility from the secular world is increasing, but the faithful bear the knowledge that secular states do not endure. They cannot endure. As societies implode, they seek scapegoats. If only that cross-section of the citizenry were silenced or eliminated, all would be well, we are told. Members of society that are already critical of it and don’t fully acclimate into its degenerate culture will always be the first victims.
As times become tumultuous, Catholic communities will need to be prepared. To be equipped, they must rebuild according to what works, that they might defend their own and inter-rely. People will be needed in a variety of areas: those skilled in apologetics, spiritual warfare, and the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.
Amongst those who acknowledge our current predicament, some of the more sensational urge a Reconquista while others advocate going into hiding — various levels of withdrawing from the world. Fr. McTeigue scrutinizes the options and provides sober analysis, so that readers might be better poised for the days ahead. On point for a Jesuit, he makes heavy use of Ignatian spirituality to help readers to discern not just what must be done in the nation at large or throughout the world, but what we as individuals must do now, according to our state in life. He asks, “How shall we live now so that our posterity will bless us rather than curse us?”
In some ways, that’s not what one wants to hear, because it is easier to immerse in fantasy about what other people, and their large groups, need to do or should be doing. Discerning what we need to do as individuals is what so many books of this genre skip, and it is what matters most. He insists on the need for an examination of conscience communally and individually, if we are to move forward to difficult times without succumbing to them.
This book would benefit anyone who takes seriously the faith and their duty to defend it. Fr. McTeigue calls people to be more than they are, and to do more than they have been doing, because saying yes to Christ “requires a union with him that will demand of me a re-living with him of his own incarnate life including suffering, dying, and rising.”
Many today are living as practical atheists, but the time is coming where that will no longer be an option.
Christendom Lost and Found: Meditations for a Post Post-Christian Era
By Fr. Robert McTeigue, S.J.
Ignatius Press, 2022
Paperback, 125 pages
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The recipe of a preparedness for what lies ahead for serious Catholics must first and foremost include frequent reception of the Sacrament of Penance. This is a must from top to bottom: from Peter to Joe Pewsitter.
More from this author, please.
Fr. Robert McTeigue, S.J. hit it right on the nail-I have been sending out e-mails saying the same things. One should not just along with the flow which is really moving away from the teachings of the Catholic Church. I keep telling people that in Confirmation we became soldiers of christ and we need to, if necessary move out of our comfort zone whether no one believs us or criticze kus.
Why? I have not said anything more differently than Fr has.
Were we not edging off the cliff there wouldn’t be so many advisors telling us what we must do. Fr McTeigue SJ among the many good advisors, Ignatian introspective discernment, return to the best of the past. Others have discussed the Benedict option, and so on. Leadership, centralized and committed is what generates the recovery McTeigue envisions.
Airports have a lost and found department, the Church, simply put, Christ’s revelation. It’s simple, clear, and works best. We do have leaders Cardinals Gerhard Muller, Raymond Burke, Willem Eijk, Archbishops Aquila, Naumann for starting. Men who can invoke a calling of the clans, not for celebration and bagpipes, rather for serious battle with an apostate clergy from top to bottom.
We need more Sarah Cains to inspire. Laity are the essential members of the various clans, traditionalists, Latin Liturgical advocates, Novus Ordo adherents, the disheartened, the faint hearted as well as the brave. The Holy Spirit has a way of inspiring fire. At point. It’s about time we recognize that the faithful organize, and disassociate with vigor from the apostates within.
A central command of strong voices among the prelates suggested may motivate us to retrieve what is lost.
Sarah Cain is simply a brilliant author. Her writings hit points that many have forgotten or perhaps never were taught.
We do have leaders. Add Abps. Salvatore Cordileone and Charles Chaput. And there are others. Lay leaders too. My latest happy discovery is Catholic Unscripted with Gavin Ashenden and two other straight-talking commentators.
“Without a sober evaluation of the state of the present, and the direction we are moving, we are doomed to continue our slide. Our enemies will make sure of it. We have enemies throughout the secular world, enemies within the Church, and plenty who would dilute the faith in an attempt to appeal to the world.” Quoted from the article.
To see how enemies of the Church, both secular and top Church power Catholics, are trying to destroy the Church, please watch EWTN’s ‘Wolf in sheep’s clothing’.
I reject the concept, “post-Christian”.
“Revitalizing” was, 15 to 20 years ago or so, a local synodal theme where I live. One of the main protagonists in that synod was the priest who is our current bishop before he was bishop. It’s not a new idea.
But what emerged after he became bishop -long after the synod- was his tilt to Modernism. Meanwhile not everything gets extracted from the synod for updating; some kind of selective activity is at play, I do not know what.
Here in Cain’s thesis, there is a contradiction on the face of the text, i.e., in the choice of phraseology. It’s “post-Christ” and it “has to be revitalized”? Am I supposed to make sense of that? If I don’t I am not being baptismal?
But on the other hand the Holy Father says he has uncovered “neo-Pelagianism” among the “rigid” and the “incurvatus”?
Your reference to Francis reminds me how I’ve learned to laugh when a juvenile egomaniac abuses language to defy reality. For a secular utopian, intent on deconstructing the Catholic religion, to call anyone a Pelagian or a trendy exhibitionistic neophilliac to call another incurvatus is exercising a level of denial comparable to someone standing at the bottom of the ocean and denying the existence of moisture.
I have read more than once that the incoming crop of priests, sparse though they be, are overwhelmingly conservative in orientation. We must pray the church survives until they are in a position to take the helm. Once they replace the current crop of aged hippy-leftist bishops and cardinals, things will improve. The present church leaders are the ones who cooperated with the State to shut our churches for Easter and months thereafter on 2020. They essentially cooperated with “the Romans”. Yet even the Romans could not shut down the church, as the Martyrs attest. Churches were shuttered and then church leaders sat and did NOTHING to force the reopening of the church. They allowed state inspectors to spy on church functions and prohibit singing and decide upon seating capacity when they finally did open. The level of betrayal felt by many church goers was palpable. Fast forward, an estimated 30% of Catholics have not returned to church since they reopened post-covid. No apparent effort is being made to encourage or push them to do so. No letters home from the Pastors reminding folks they have a duty to be at church on Sundays. No full page newspaper or Computer ads beckoning people to return and yes, remind them of the obligation. But the Bishops unwittingly set themselves a trap. Once convincing their sheep that TV Mass and “spiritual” Communion were as good as the real thing, well, you could count on many to keep engaged at that low level indefinitely. Many decided sleeping in Sunday morning was preferable to attending Mass at all, even on TV, and have continued to do so, dispensing with worship completely. Thanks to the current crop of church leaders they continue down this path guilt-free. I hope some in current authority understand they need to take an active role in turning this around. Getting parishioners back into the pews would be a place to start.
I have to admit, when I see “SJ” I am immediately suspicious. This is despite my great admiration for Jesuit Fathers Paul Mankowski, James Schall, Joseph Fessio, John A. Hardon, and others whom I consider true defenders of the Faith; and the trust I have placed in the Society while sending my oldest child to one of their high schools and now one of their colleges. The Society has run off the rails, and careful discernment is called for when opening oneself or family to its influences. The author of the book reviewed so brilliantly here seems certainly to be among the defenders of the Faith, and I intend to place an order for the work shortly with Ignatius Press.
I love Western Civilization. I wish it were revived and restored right now.
But please see if you agree with this:
All the dramatic changes in culture, religion, and ethics have been caused by advances in science and technology.
I’m thinking of things such as:
–The printing press. (Made possible the Protestant fracturing of the Church in Europe)
–The Internet. (Led to you reading this; also turned every home in the world into an XXX rated movie theater)
–The automobile. (Ended small town and community life in America.)
–The airplane. (Enabled Covid-19 to spread across the world quickly.)
–The train. (Made possible the Holocaust.)
–Nuclear weapons. (End of the world fears helped create the new policies of peace, ecumenism, and interfaith prayer and worship that were inaugurated at Vatican II)
–The machine gun (created the tragedy of WWI, which led to the tragedy of WWII)
–Birth control pills (led to very widespread use/misuse of “primacy of conscience” doctrine among sexually active Catholics; led to nearly all women having careers outside the home just like men)
So, to save Western Civilization, and return to the glory days of the West, I think we’d have to somehow undue all this progress in science and technology.
Exhortations, as inspiring and beautiful as they may be, won’t suffice, will they?
Hold on a second: The Latter-day Saints, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Amish, and the Ultraorthodox Jewish communities, just to name a few, have maintained an internal culture of faith, ethics, family, and religion that have quite successfully shut out the decadent modern world.
So, in theory, the old pre-Vatican II separate Catholic culture could be rebuilt and restored. The old walls could be rebuilt.
But that would be like an earthquake in Minnesota (they don’t have many earthquakes in Minnesota).
The Vatican II Renewalists (the vast majority of the episcopacy) are very determined that we should never go back to that.
But “miracles never cease” is a trustworthy old saying, isn’t it
The requirements of the Eighth Commandment include not being ridiculous with drawing conclusions from historical observations. Technology does not create value judgments. Moral value judgments determine how any and all human instrumentality is used. Your desire to tyrannize the world with your absurd vision of deinstrumentalizing human productivity, which would cause instant mass starvation and suffering and the spread of disease and death far more rapidly than the fantasy causation that you attribute to Covid and airplanes, is a profoundly evil vision.
Edward J Baker, denying VATICAN II as you did below, puts you at odds with the Eighth Commandment. It’s for you to correct that. An “inevitable progress” of your own comments otherwise, does not correct it.
It makes you unhappy perhaps that one less than perfect, can have shown it to you?
To surmise that I denied VII merely points to a need for careful and honest reading prior to accusation. I noted criticisms of implicit secular progressivism antithetical to a Christian understanding of original sin and the imperfectability of the human condition explicitly contained in a few documents, observations made by many including Popes JPII and Benedict XVI, not to mention many of the world’s bishops in the VII retrospective Extraordinary Synod of 1985. Their call for a catechism was due in part to misunderstandings that stemmed from misleading language in the documents of VII.
Bear in mind, if a 200 pound man with one pound of cancer cells in his body goes to a doctor, a doctor should not say, what is your problem, 99.5 percent of your cells are good and healthy. What can go wrong?
The doctor would have to treat the illness. Though I know some some cancer patients that went home and ate sapodilla and beat the cancer. I heard that other cancer patients had miraculous healings.
‘ When language within documents that are almost excellent nonetheless validates faith in the inevitable progress of humanity, it denies humanity’s permanent fallen condition ….. ‘
I’m really am not trying to pin something on, but you have to correct that nonetheless. That’s how I’m coming at it. I admire your prose abilities, really; however it is not helping in the instant only making it worse.
I’m not being facetious about your prose, it’s very good. But I do not accept what you give there as a sound appreciation of VATICAN II or as sound uptake of Ratzinger. And the prose makes it go to the repulsive not the admirable.
I do not want to say I noticed in the past months you had, on such occasions, been demeaning of the Council. I’m dealing with the statement that’s here.
Most importantly of all, it’s not me you have to answer to on it.
I wonder how ….. persimmon would work in place of sapodilla!
Starting over from the top, I reject the concept, “post-Christian”.
The soul that will be in Purgatory until the end of time, that BVM told Sr. Lucia about, who is Sr. Lucia’s relative, is in such a situation for the reason that she repented very late of adultery. Fortunately for her she will not go to Hell; however, notwithstanding her repentance we have been instructed how very long it will take to retrace those steps properly and find the right path in spirit.
Sr. Lucia kept probing BVM for answers about other souls and our Lady abruptly changed subject. One or two lessons will always suffice when they are properly given.
We have at present in the early part of the 21st Century, an ongoing attempt to codify, homogenize and globalize the spiritual adventure-some-ness learned in the 20th Century. It purports to create some kind of presumption of validity that can be accorded to it and prove that it mustn’t be overlooked; and that it fits nicely with Church Tradition and Thomism “as captured and intended by VATICAN II”. What should be noticed rather, is that it already failed in the 20th Century.
I look forward to reading this book while realizing that the drama of Christianity’s crisis is perpetual. Niebuhr’s famous lament applies to all times, “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.”
Christians are twice delusional when they convince themselves that once they arrive at Christianity, they cease being delusional about their sins and their need for constant contrition, sacramental contrition.
Critics of Vatican II are marginalized as fanatics without even considering the point of sober criticism. When language within documents that are almost excellent nonetheless validates faith in the inevitable progress of humanity, it denies humanity’s permanent fallen condition as Josef Ratzinger observed. A humanity that believes in its inevitable perfection is a Unitarian Christianity. And the “spirit of VII” has drifted in this direction for decades, now under the inspiration, from all appearances, of a Pelagian Pope with no self-awareness, as he frequently projects this accusation, and with no one willing to confront him.
I highly recommend the comment above by Edward J Baker.
What sober recognition of reality!
Edward J. Baker you posted your Comment here just following my own; and it can appear you have denied the Council, which you do, under cover of my Comment that has no such purpose or content. You also denied the Council under cover of
2. Niebuhr’s famous lament
3. Ratzinger’s observation
4. delusional Christians
5. unspecified critics of VATICAN II
6. unspecified sober criticisms
7. a Pelagian Pope
8. no-one willing to confront the Pelagian Pope
9. Christianity’s perpetual crisis
In the process you managed to trip up Gus to “highly recommend” your comment using his own conceits, who either revealed his own true stance or showed how easy it is to confuse him.
On top of all of that your positioning gives off an air as if it deserves credit for clarifying stupendous injustice. What a terrible mess you make.
It could be easy to conclude how it joins nicely into the whole “revitalizing” scripting; but I’ll hold off on that.
Synthetically all the post-modern theses reject limit and finiteness, a refusal that cannot tolerate that man cannot be God. Obviously, therefore, the ferocious attack of this mentality on some targets: Christianity, for which the world has great value, because God himself is incarnated in it and because it is willed precisely by God; history and the past (through cancel culture), because they recall the series of failures of construction of the new man; tradition and all the vital supports that allow it to be received and transmitted: like the language with which it speaks, the family where it is renewed, the woman who raises the new generations. The strategy of the Gnostic Cultural Revolution in the forms of anti-religious reductionism, Marxist Prometheism, corruption of historical memory through the breakdown of language, the radical-relativist philosophy of the media, the destruction of the family through the sexual revolution, and some forms of feminism.