For the purposes of the remainder of this article, Catholic Action will be understood in the sense given it by St. Pius X. However, before we proceed to a consideration of Catholic Action in its widest sense, we need to dispose of two objections which are commonly promoted by those who feel that Catholic Action is somehow not quite central to the Catholic religion.
There is a certain mentality amongst some traditionalists which reflects the idea that politics is something that has no connection whatever with Catholicism, and that, therefore, they should be kept well apart. In so far as this refers to interaction between political parties and the Catholic Church, this is undoubtedly true. Fr. Fahey reminds us that: “The Church does not prefer one of the three forms of government: Monarchy, Aristocracy or Democracy, to the others, but She does insist that whatever form of government a people may give itself, Caesar shall acknowledge the Divine Plan for Order”. Thus it is right for the authorities of the Church to refrain from involvement in party political affairs as it could compromise Her independence and freedom of action.
Not infrequently, however, those Catholics who show themselves hostile to political involvement go beyond the teaching of the Church and appear to suggest that the Church has no legitimate interest in matters political. If this is followed logically to its conclusion, we find ourselves before the idea of complete separation of Church and State – a wholly Masonic conception and ideal. It is one thing to say that party political affairs are to be avoided, it is another to say that Catholicism has no interest in politics per se. Fr. Fahey writes: “As man is by nature a social being, and as the average member of society is, to an almost incalculable extent, at the mercy of his surroundings, he must be sustained, in his efforts to cultivate his personality, by a social framework permeated by the supernatural outlook. That framework in itself, of course, is not enough, but the order of life demands that we should ever and always strive for its realisation, to the best of our ability”.
It follows naturally, that if Catholics do not mould their surroundings in line with the tenets of the Faith, then others, hostile to the Faith, will mould it in their own image. Again, the saintly St. Pius X speaks without hesitation on this important matter: “We do not conceal the fact that We shall shock some people by saying that We must necessarily concern ourselves with politics. But anyone forming an equitable judgement clearly sees that the Supreme Pontiff can in no wise violently withdraw the category of politics from subjection to the supreme control of faith and morals confided to him”. In other words, it is for Catholics to involve themselves in politics in such manner that it conduces to the Social Reign of Christ, whilst the indirect jurisdiction of the clergy is applied to ensure that neither the means nor the ends sought by the laity contradict the teaching of Holy Church.
The second objection raised against Catholic Action is easier to dispose of. Few traditionalists will disagree with Carol Robinson when she writes: “For the most part our Christianity is residual. There are scraps of it left over from the Middle Ages, but daily fewer scraps”. The trouble arises when we have to decide what to do in the face of such a situation. Some would say that we must adapt to the times and thus follow Paul VI in asking only that the Church be allowed to serve the world; this forgets that some in the world do not want a servant, or that they want one that really approximates to a slave. However, there are not a few who say that the situation is now so degenerate, so beyond human effort, that we can do nothing. There are a number of ways in which this can be answered.
Firstly, on the purely emotional level, what mother or father, who takes seriously the name ‘Catholic’, can remain immobile before a world growing daily more satanic, and which is the inheritance of their children? Secondly, to those who say things have gone too far, that it is too late, we must reply by saying: “But about that day or the hour no man knoweth, not even the angels in Heaven, nor yet the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch; for ye know not when is the time”. So who or what is the authority for saying it is too late? Thirdly, the enormity of the task before us, and the smallness of our numbers, relatively speaking, is not an argument that can be taken seriously. Did the first Apostles baulk at the idea of converting the world as Our Lord commanded them? Are we not more numerous than they? Do we not possess the same Catholic Faith, guaranteed by the Father until the end of time? Once again, it is Fr. Fahey who puts an end to such objections: “All Catholics are, by the fact of their membership of Christ, whole-time Christians, and should be intimately convinced of this solidarity with Christ and with their fellow members of His Mystical Body in the really vital struggle that is going on in the world. Their attitude when leaving the church after Mass is not intended to be merely the negative one of not allowing themselves to be carried in the direction of Naturalism by the current of life around them, but the positive one of striving to organise the whole framework of society under Christ the King and of impregnating the State, family life, education and economic organisation with the great truth of human solidarity in Christ’s Mystical Body”. This is nothing else other than a call to pray, to study, to action, to crusade! It is not an option, but a duty to be carried out by all Catholics in a manner appropriate to their state of life. To refuse or to ignore this duty of the Faith is a grave sin of omission, and does grave damage to the mission of the Church in the world as well as threatening our own personal salvation.
Let us now proceed to a consideration of the most difficult question: What is to be done in a world so dechristianised, so hellish? This writer has met not a few Catholics who would like to do something in this field, and yet they confess they do not have the faintest idea where to start. The succinct answer is this: if the world is to have Christ’s personality imprinted upon it, then we have a world to make!
In order to make this perfectly clear, let us imagine that our life, our whole existence, is one massive chateau made up of billions and billions of rooms. Upon each door is to be found a sign: Law, Finance, Architecture, Science, Culture, Craftsmanship, Communications, History, Medicine and so forth. At the centre of the chateau is to be found a chapel – this is the Church. The door to the chateau was the Garden of Eden; through it, Satan passed into the chateau. His strategy, thereafter, was to win control of one room after another, by lies, by deceit, by the winning over to his side of souls who turned against God. History has been the record of how he has built his power base within the chateau until such time as control of sufficient numbers of rooms made a direct and general assault upon the chapel a realistic possibility. The task of the laity, drawing spiritual sustenance from the Sacraments available at the chapel, was to give combat to Satan at every turn, confronting him in every room in order to maintain it under God’s control. In rooms related to science, it was the duty of teachers and scientists to fight Materialist pseudo-science with the weapons of Catholic science. In rooms related to work, it was the laity’s duty to promote work forms and structures that contributed to the elevation of the human personality, and to combat the industrialism and commercialism that has made work hateful and a drudgery. In architecture, it was for the lay Catholic to advance those building principles that inspired, that consoled the human condition, and to fight against the soullessness of contemporary architecture which saddens and provokes a suicidal mentality.
This, then, was the duty of the Catholic laity – from the richest to the poorest, from the most intelligent to the least intelligent, from the most saintly to the least saintly. The reality has been altogether different: no Catholic Action, or a deviant form of Catholic Action, handed over a vast number of rooms in the chateau to Satan with little or no struggle. Instead of giving battle everywhere, most of the laity withdrew to the chapel, ostensibly to protect it, but frequently simply to avoid having to fight in the world for Christ the King. Hardly surprisingly, Satan’s forces, exhilarated by easy victory upon easy victory, breached the doors of the chapel and invaded the Sanctuary defended by too few committed, well-formed Catholics surrounded by an ocean of ‘Sunday Catholics’ and who, at the first sight of battle, took to flight. The reality today is that most of the rooms of the chateau are now, directly or indirectly, under Satan’s control; the Sanctuary is a battle field where large numbers have either laid down their arms or gone over to the forces of Satan; the traditionalists are simply that ultra-minority of priests and laity skirmishing in the Sanctuary, to maintain the altar, to maintain the Perpetual Sacrifice. Pockets of resistance, pockets of the Faith, have been won in the Sanctuary after three decades of struggle, but it is now the duty of the laity to counter-attack, to attempt to regain control of a room here, a room there, and in so doing to attempt to rally those who fled from the battle; to convert back those who betrayed; to win over those millions in those rooms who have never known anything other than the rule of Satan. Not to do so is to risk whatever gains have been made in the Sanctuary. This is not an option, but a vital necessity. We need recruits for both the laity and the clergy. This can only be had from proclaiming mission and crusade, by appealing to those susceptible to a religious message with religious arguments, and to those worried on the purely temporal level with the great truth of Catholic Social Teaching.
The first necessity of a serious programme for Catholic Action is a new mentality amongst Catholics, for thought precedes and moulds action. It is patently obvious that the old mentality, the mentality of the ‘Sunday Catholic’, is worse than useless, for it is this mentality which has brought us to our current, dire, situation. It is also evident that this new mentality must take root, above all, in our young people; they must have held before them a vision of another way of life, a way that differs in its essentials from the contemporary world, and yet is attractive in its own way. Fr. Fahey, speaking of youth, says: “They are not accustomed to think that they must co-operate with other young Catholics for Our Lord’s programme. They display a lamentable lack of cohesion and a pitiable want of enthusiasm for christ’s interests, with the result that Catholics who stand for integral Christianity can always count on finding other Catholics in the service of the enemy”.
Remember, this was written decades before the Second Vatican Council. Fahey continues: “Catholic youth should come forth from schoo into the world with a clear vision of the fact that, if they do not mould the social organisation of the world, political and economic, so as to have the supernatural spirit of the Mystical Body prevail, the world will be moulded by the organised forces striving for the elimination of supernatural life and for the spread of Naturalism”. These “organised forces” are headed, he says, by World Jewry and International Freemasonry; a statement wholly in conformity with traditional papal teaching.
Of course, it may be argued that Fr. Fahey is simply expressing the Celtic tendency to look on the dark side of things. Yet we find Carol Robinson, an American traditionalist of the first order, writing: “As long as Catholic schools, employment agencies and clubs continue to sponsor talks by representatives of the Bell Telephone Company, personnel managers of big department stores and chemical manufacturing companies, they will be steering students into life work which virtually renders them impotent to participate in God’s Plan for the renovation of society, thereby jeopardizing society and their soul’s salvation”.
Ask yourself: how many of our best youngsters are working for National Westminster or one of the other banks; how many are bureaucrats within the System; how many work for insurance companies, financial consultancies and the like? Ask yourself: why are the best traditionalist minds spending their working lives to prop up the Masonic, Naturalist and Capitalist System? Simply because no-one is holding up before our young people an alternative, a Catholic alternative. Simply because no-one is telling them that there is an alternative. Again, in tones reminiscent of Fahey, Mrs. Robinson adds: “It takes a lot of strength to go against the current and those who try will not get much encouragement. That is one reason why they should stick together. This is no age for individual achievements.”
There are, of course, countless other solid Catholic writers who tell us the same thing: be in the world, but don’t be of the world. It seems to me that the essential point in the creation of a new mentality is to convey to our young people that they should embrace a vocation – this does not refer to purely religious vocations – and reject a career. The reason is that the former descends from Heaven, whilst the latter rises from Hell. Not convinced?
What should we understand by the word ‘career’? Here it signifies that situation where a person devotes his entire life in real terms – his talents, his energies, his time – to what is, in reality, merely the economic aspect of his life and elevates this to his final end. How many people wear themselves out in pursuit of promotion within the advertising agency, the insurance company or the banking corporation, without ever a thought for the afterlife? How many realise that in climbing the ‘ladder of success’, they are descending into Hell? It cannot be otherwise for a career exalts, deifies, a means – economics – and makes of it an end. It is pure idolatry, and it is the religion of millions; sadly, it is also the religion of vast numbers of Catholics, weakened in Faith, and ignorant of the Divine Plan for Order.
By contrast, a vocation is that form of work which allows a man to live, to support his family, to do good unto his neighbour, and aids his efforts to attain Heaven. It is the Catholic notion that work can, in a healthy society, be a positive aid to a man’s salvation. Yet it sounds almost Kafkaesque in our society. A vocation allows us to see Christ in other people, and to act accordingly. A doctor or nurse, who regards his work as a vocation and not merely as a money-making exercise, is genuinely missed in a community whenever he leaves a locality or passes on from this life. A craftsman: a carpenter, a silversmith, an artist; all who see in their work a vocation, leave for others works that edify, that bear the imprint of the personality of their creators, a personality striving to be Christ-like, striving to express that talent which is God-given. The men who built the great cathedrals of Europe have only left us in one sense, for their personalities are still with us – imprinted on stone for a thousand years. Are we not the richer for their work, work that tried to scale the heights of Heaven? Is not their glory their attempt to proclaim the greatness of God?
Now look at the careers of the modern world. Who misses the bank executive who has spent his life in the service of Mammon, shackling the world to usury in its most systematic and refined form in history? What society feels the richer for the presence of the man who has typed up and processed 10,000 car insurance policies in his life-time? How many weep a tear from their eye for the Stock Exchange dealer who lived a life of material ease, built upon immoral dealing and the misery of the masses? Which destination, Heaven or Hell, has the sharp advertising man won for himself, using his talent and his intelligence, to get people to buy that which they didn’t need, didn’t want, and couldn’t afford?
When you consider the modern world in this light, what proportion of traditionalists are doing worthwhile jobs? What percentage can truly say that their work is advancing the Kingdom of God, or even their own salvation? And the crucial question: how many of them would be prepared to turn to a truly Catholic way of life, a way of life conducive to simplicity and holiness, avoiding poverty, but where the materialistic standard of living was much lower? In pondering such profound questions, remember: “The contrast between God’s Order and the New Order is the contrast between the natural order and an artificial one”.
The time has clearly come for traditionalists to begin the process of extricating themselves from this godless system and to begin laying down the foundations of the Catholic alternative. This is the aim of Catholic Action. Let no-one pretend that this will be a relatively easy thing; let no-one pretend that it is not going to involve sacrifices of all kinds on a colossal scale; let no-one pretend that it will only be the work of 10 or 15 years duration. “But it is the condition of turning the world to Him, as well as the requisite of our own salvation.”