The Mundabor Experience.
We live now in an age in which a huge number of Catholics slowly begin to approach their grave. Many of them, who grew up in the Sixties, will go to their grave without ever knowing the old school Catholicism, the era not only of sanity, but of splendour that went to an end in 1958.
There is no doubt that hell is threatening many of these souls, letting Satan anticipate a harvest without precedents in the West in twenty centuries. It is, in fact, another sign of the madness of the times that many of those so endangered think that they will be fine, because they are such nice neighbours and do some “charitable” work without knowing what charity even is. Many others seem to think that people who have never been properly instructed can keep going against the teaching of the Church unpunished because hey, they did not have good priests; which lets one think that if this is true, the best thing to do is to have horrible ones.
No. Either this generation runs the concrete risk of being punished very hard, or all the preceding ones were wrong in caring about salvation – and about orthodoxy, and proper instruction – the way they did.
Some might say that these scattered sheep must now be gathered with gentle, soothing words; with a softly-softly approach that does not cause them to reject the Church altogether; with a gentle reminder that says look, one should think whether our forefathers were perhaps right, and whether the modern thinking has brought the expected results after all.
In my eyes, the softly-softly approach is what has scattered the sheep in the first place, and it is therefore not smart at all to think that more of this will have any other result than to scatter them further. Conversion must be primed. It must be primed by a sort of fuse, a switch, an internal turmoil that suddenly stops the wrong thinking in its path and encourages, or forces, a person to think in a radically different way.
One thinks abortion is unpleasant, but hey, at times you gotta do what you gotta do. He supports abortion laws, and finds opposition to it unrealistic, unenforceable, or “dangerous for the women forced to abort illegally” (I seldom hear the argument of the “poor heroin addicts forced to drug themselves illegally”, by the way). Another thinks the condemnation of fornication is the residue of another time; a third thinks the Church is wrong on “the gays” and should “celebrate diversity” instead. I could go on and on.
Do you think such people, already dulled by years of wrong thinking, are going to be impressed – much less converted – by those inviting them to a kind of “slightly different approach”? No. What they need is a far more brutal experience. Something like, so to speak, the Mundabor experience.
The chap above sees photos of aborted foetuses; Or he hears abortion called murder; or he is told very clearly: you are a fool if you think you are not in grave danger of hell. He reads the brutal facts about Sodoms. He is confronted with serious warnings. Truth looks at him straight in the face.
Most importantly, he realises that all that he reads is nothing new; that it is, in fact, very old; that it is what his forefathers have always believed, what the West is largely founded upon. This new approach cannot be merely suggested. Suggestions rarely lead to 180 degrees change of direction. The new approach – which is the very old one – must be smashed on the face of the reader; with charity and compassion, yes; but smashed on his nose entirely anyway.
This is, I think, what has the best probability of starting, in time, a thinking process. Being knocked out of what is today called the “comfort zone” is, very often, a necessary condition for a real change of thinking. Let people be angry at first. Immediate conversions are extremely rare. But push down his throat a seed that will never be forgotten; that will stay there for years, abiding its time; and will perhaps start to germinate when, perhaps many years later, a traumatic event occurs: a bereavement, or loss of health, or of financial security. Something which leads one to look for a new basis of his existence. When the time comes, the seed will be there.
The preachers of old, who thundered about hell like there is no tomorrow, knew that people would – in most cases – not go home and start a new life. What they knew is that the shock would be remembered, and kept in storage until, with God’s grace, the time when it would be allowed to bear fruit.
This is why the Church has continued to lose Western churchgoers under Benedict. Benedict was no earthquake. He wasn’t the “old religion”. He did not move anyone to assist to Traditional Latin Papal Mass in awe – which he never celebrated – and he therefore did not move people to suddenly, brutally come in contact with a completely different reality: with the old, and therefore completely new to them, ball game.
Those who succeed are those who go all out. Padre Pio slapped people. Joan of Arc inflamed them. Savonarola – with all his excesses – still made them wish to be more like Christ. You can’t set people’s hearts in flames without a flamethrower. They will not experience a deep change in their outlook merely because of you politely suggesting they do so.
I will never forget my relief – confused non-practicing Catholic as I then was; with so much rubbish in my head I want to cry if I only think about it – at knowing, from Internet sites first clicked in the now distant 2005, that “the old religion” still existed! That there were, in fact, people around – laymen, people like you and I – talking like my Grandmas did, and like I had never heard one priest, not one, in my entire life talking!
I had been encouraged for so many years to downplay the Truth, from the very people who should have taught it to me, that it was like discovering an old food you told out of market has never being discontinued. It was people like you and me, going on the Internet and saying “stop being bamboozled by half words and half wishes! This.Is.The.Truth! And yes, I cannot deny that it was also my fault that I was lapsed. But I was never encouraged not to lapse, in a time when priests did not even care to tell you you must go to Mass.
I do not say to you that my change was immediate. The discovery set up a process that led to that pleasant thought – there is still, out there, that old religion! – being thought more and more often, and become in time a desire to know more of it; and, in time, a need to be nourished by it; and with, it the need to be again near it, in church, as it used to be as a child. It was some time before I even found the courage to go to General Confession, and many a time I attended Mass without Communion before that. I was also lucky, that the church was the Brompton Oratory. What a treasure a properly Catholic church is!
But you see: many times even a gradual process starts with some big discovery: that Catholicism, as it used to be, is still alive and kicking among the common people.
There is no way to sweeten this pill, unless it be by saying that membership is open to anyone who takes the club seriously. Truth must said whole, and the truth said whole will make you go “ouch!” before it sets you free.
This is why this blog is so blunt, and why I wish there were many more blunt blogs, particularly in the English speaking world. To awaken people from their one-world torpor, weak slogans and ambiguous words are not enough.
They will likely need a Mundabor experience.