When one reads Fr. Felix Sarda y Salvany’s titanic 1886 work Liberalism is a Sin, the conclusion can only be that the Society of St. Pius X has slowly but surely embraced the liberal Catholic mentality.
In Chapter 31, “An Illusion of Liberal Catholics,” Fr. Salvany warns that of the many temptations liberalism presents to non-liberals, one of the most enticing is the idea that victory depends upon the number of persons you have fighting on your side.
The words of Fr. Salvany (found below in their entirety) are directly applicable to the situation the Society of St. Pius X currently finds itself in.
At present, Bishops like Athanasius Schneider believe that once the Society is “regularized” it can then “join forces” with others “inside” the Church, thus allowing the hard work of re-building Christ’s Church to finally commence.
Like a virus, this argument has lodged itself into the minds of many Society faithful and priests. It often manifests itself in the following manner: “The Society has allies in the Church. They tell us they need help. How can we sit here and do nothing while there are souls in need. We must join them!”
Fr. Salvany were he alive today would not subscribe to such thinking. Nor would Archbishop Lefebvre. Allow us to explain why.
If in fact there is some sort of “regularization” that takes place in the near future, Society priests will probably be invited to participate in events like the Catholic Identify Conference put on by the Remnant Newspaper (Fr. John Brucciani, SSPX has attended this conference for the past several years).
As Society faithful begin to attend these intra-Trad events, several things will likely occur. One, as contacts are made between Society supporters and non-SSPX Catholics, human respect will tempt Society faithful to either no longer desire to convert these souls to the Archbishop’s way of thinking or they will begin to think that everyone at these gatherings are not that dissimilar from themselves and therefore the differences that stand between them aren’t all that great and should be brushed aside.
Two, Society priests who speak at these gatherings will be tempted to round off the Society’s positions on certain things. They will also be subtly pressured to paper over, ignore, and possibly even apologize for things Abp. Lefevebre said and did that some believe were “extreme” so they can come off as reasonable to the non-SSPX audience members.
(It should be added that while some will insist that they won’t and will never change the message of the SSPX, history gives ample evidence that the dynamics of diverse alliances make it nearly impossible for a watering down not to take place.)
We will discuss more on the psychological effects “regularization” could have on Society faithful in a future post. For now, we present to you the wisdom of Fr. Salvany:
Amongst the illusions entertained by Liberal Catholics, there is none more pitiable than the notion that the truth requires a great number of defenders and friends. To these people, numbers seem a synonym for force. They imagine that to multiply heterogenous quantities is to multiply power.
Now true force – real power, in the physical as in the moral order – consists in intensity, rather than in extension. A greater volume of matter equally intense evidently produces a great effect, but by virtue of the augmented intensities contained in it. It is therefore a rule of sound mechanics to seek to increase the extension and number of force,s but always on the condition that the final result be a real augmentation of their intensities. To be content with an increase without consideration of the value of the increment is not only to accumulate fictitious force, but to expose to paralysis the powers which one does possess by the congestion of an unwieldy mass. The millions of Xerxes’ army constituted a force of tremendous extension, but they were of no avail agains the vigorous intensity of the Greek three hundred at Thermopylae.
Faith possesses a power of its own, which it communicates to its friends and defenders. It is not they who give the truth power, but truth which charges them with its own vigor. This on the condition that they use that power in its defense.
If the defender, under the pretext of better defending the truth, begins to mutilate it, to minimize it, to attenuate it, then he is no longer defending the truth. He is simply defending his own invention, a mere human creation, more or less beautiful in appearance, but having no relation to truth, which is the daughter of Heaven
Such is the delusion of which many of our brethren are the unconscious victims, through a detestable contact with Liberalism.
They imagine, with blinded good faith, that they are defending and propagating Catholicity. But by dint of accommodating it to their own narrow views and feeble courage, in order to make it, they say, more acceptable to the enemy whom they wish to overcome, they do not perceive that they are no longer defending Catholicity, but a thing of their own manufacture, which they naively call Catholicity, but which they ought to call by another name. Poor victims of self-deception, who at the beginning of the battle, in order to win over the enemy, wet their own powder and blunt the edge and the point of their swords! They do not stop to reflect that an edgeless and pointless sword is no longer a weapon, but a useless piece of old iron, and that wet powder cannot be fired.
Their journals, their books, their discourses veneered with Catholicity but bereft of its spirit and its life—have no more value in the cause of the Faith than the toy swords and pistols of the nursery.
To an army of this kind, be it ten times as numerous as the multitudinous hosts of Xerxes, a single platoon of well-armed soldiers—knowing what they are defending, against whom they are contending, and with what arms they fight in order to defend the truth—is preferable a thousand times over. This is the kind of soldiers we need. This is the kind who have always and will yet do something more for the glory of His Name. They go into the deadly, imminent breach and never flinch. No compromising, no minimizing with them.
They plant their banner on the topmost height and form a solid, invincible phalanx around it that not all the legions of Earth and Hell combined can budge a single inch. They make no alliance, no compromise with a foe whose single aim, disguised or open, is the destruction of the truth. They know that the enemy is by nature implacable and that his flag of truce is but a cunning device of treachery.
Of this we will become more and more convinced, if we consider that an alliance of this kind with a false auxiliary group is not only useless to the good Christian in the midst of the combat, but moreover, it is most of the time an actual embarrassment to him and favorable to the enemy. Catholic associations hampered in their onward march by such an alliance will find themselves so impeded that free action becomes impossible. They will end by having all their energies crushed under a deadly inertia. To bring an enemy into the camp is to betray the citadel. It was not until the Trojans admitted the fatal wooden horse within the city walls that Troy fell. This combination of the bad with the good cannot but end in evil results. It brings disorder, confusion, suspicion and uncertainty to distract and divide Catholics, and all this to the benefit of the enemy and to our own disaster.
Against such a course la Civilta Cattolica, in some remarkable articles, has emphatically declared. Without the proper precaution, it says, “associations of this kind (Catholic) run the certain danger, not only of becoming a camp of scandalous discord, but also of wandering away from their true principles, to their own ruin and to the great injury of religion.” And this same review, whose authority is of the greatest possible weight, in regard to the same subject, says, “With a prudent understanding, Catholic associations ought chiefly to take care to exclude from amongst themselves not only those who openly profess the principles of Liberalism, but also those who have deceived themselves into believing that a conciliation between Liberalism and Catholicism is possible, and who are known as Liberal Catholics.”