The article prior to this one, entitled Reader’s Comments on “Divide & Conquer vs. Conquer & Unite,” explained how a reader’s comments on the article just previous to it (Divide & Conquer vs. Conquer & Unite) were inadvertently lost because of an “editing” error. As it turns out, this was a “providential mistake,” for the reader’s comments, by virtue of being posted as an article in and of themselves, are now more widely known; many might read an article, but very few take the time to read someone else’s “comments” on it.
But it was also a providential mistake in that the reader’s comments provided the impetus for (and the nucleus of) the article that you are now reading. The reader not only provided corroborative testimony that the same abuses going on at SGG also went on in Warren, Michigan; but he struck a “corroborative” chord in some other areas as well. First off, he “hit the nail on the head” when he said that in much of traditional Catholicism, there is no charity. How true! (There certainly didn’t seem to be much of it in Warren – or at MHT Seminary!). So many traditionals are so caught up in “the letter of the law” that they pharisaically disregard the spirit of the law.
Secondly, he reinforced the point made about the fact that one can be (and is) truly Catholic, whether he be sedevacantist or not be. It is obvious from his comments that he is not. But the fact that many of us are (or have those sorts of leanings) makes him no less a Catholic than the rest of us. The important “point to seize” (to use Hilaire Belloc’s turn of phrase) is not that Joseph Ratzinger is or isn’t a pope, but that he is a bad man. But the even more important point to seize is to understand WHY such arguments are used: to conquer and divide – to get us sheep fighting and arguing amongst ourselves while the wolves-in-charge use that bickering to scatter that macro flock known as “traditional Catholicism” into many micro flocks – and then, to control and manipulate each micro flock to prevent it from re-joining with others to make traditional Catholicism whole and united again.
A secondary “benefit” of – or rather, benefit for -- each “micro-wolf” controlling his own flock is the obvious material one – especially if he has some “heavy hitting” sheep stuffing the collection basket. That certainly has been the case at SGG (I say “has been” because most of their “heavy hitters” have left in disgust, to the point where the wolves are now getting desperate; that’s why so many of their sermons these days are pleas for money). And even if their reasons are NOT sinister, many pastors are too parochial in their thinking, putting the material well-being of their own flocks aver the good of traditional Catholicism as a whole. Now it is proper and healthy for a pastor to “look out for number one”; after all, a parish must have enough coming in to “survive.” But when one makes “filling up the coffers” too much of a priority -- and makes it an “end” rather than a means to an end, this is where corruption grabs hold and takes over – for instance, when clerics start taking trips to Europe and Latin America, labeling them as justifiable “apostolates.”
The reader also made another very good point in observing that so many older children are not to be found in traditional churches these days – partly because some overly strict pastor “turns them off” with arbitrary (and unnecessary) “rules” – rules concerning everything from “behavior in church” (the “crying babies” example that he illustrated) to overly strict “behavioral” or “dress-code” requirements (either in church or in school) that lead to “discipline” that is little more than out-and-out sadistic abuse. The reader’s example of the little first-grader wetting her pants is an all-too-familiar one; there are many SGG “war stories” on exactly the same sort of thing, as many can attest to – as can even those who are still at SGG. And yes, many of their older children have left there, as the reader so aptly surmised.
The reader noted as well that “children are very perceptive” – right on, brother! They see and absorb all that goes on – not just “arbitrariness” in behavior and dress-code requirements, but everything. They catch every little nuance – more than we think they do. They can sense things; and when they sense something that is “not quite right,” it usually isn’t. They can sniff out “phoniness” often times more so than the average adult (especially brain-drained “culties”!). And all that they absorb and/or sense eventually creates a cumulative impression on them -- one which can form (or malform) their characters. Those SGG parishioners with children should note this well.
As was stated in the earlier article, at SAG there never has been, nor will there ever be, any of the nonsense that has typified SGG. That is the beauty of not being a cult. Parents don’t have to worry about how their children are being (mis)treated. They don’t have to worry that little Johnny will not be allowed back into church during the sermon if he happens to leave during it for a bathroom break, or be scolded from the pulpit because his shoes made too much noise while walking in church, or be chased away from the drinking fountain for taking a drink during Mass – or any other such “infraction.” Nor will adults have a “guilt-trip” noose tightened around their necks for “not doing enough,” whether it be church attendance, “holy helper” work for the church, or not sending their kids to a school whose principal acts more like a sadistic prison warden. In short, at SAG there is no cult-like atmosphere of fear. And, to repeat, at SAG, those who differ on “non-binding” issues are not treated as “heretics” or “schismatics,” nor will they or anyone else be turned away. Nor will we try to impose any such “non-binding issues” on you – or use any such tactics to drive a wedge between you and your family. All are welcome at SAG.
In the beginning of this article, I mentioned that in the reader’s comments, he noted that there is no charity in much of traditional Catholicism. That is the piece that is missing: it has been replaced with letter-of-the-law Pharisaism, where one is measured not by what is in his heart but by how many “i’s” he dots and how many “t’s” he crosses; it has been replaced by hypocrites crying “calumny and detraction” whenever they hear a lay person speaking out against evil done by a cleric (while ignoring or even condoning that evil itself); and it has been replaced by a kind of faith based on fear, a kind of faith that is really a kind of despair. The missing ingredient in all these things is charity:
“If I speak with the tongues of men, and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And if I should have prophecy and should know all mysteries, and all knowledge, and if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. …Charity is patient, is kind: charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely; is not puffed up; is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil. …And now there remain faith, hope, and charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity.”