This Post was first published in June 2011. Certain anachronisms have been corrected.There is a powerful message for us to-day.

SAINT BASIL THE GREAT - A.D. 329 -379.  
Saint Basil would have been at home in the Post-Conciliar Church. He was no stranger to the problems that beset the Church even to-day.When he uttered the words "Silence is no longer safe", he, like so many of the early Fathers - think of St John Chrysostom - was attacked for his defence of Catholic doctrine.He shared with the others, the stress and strain of teaching, sanctifying and governing in times of great trial.  Nevertheless, he realised what Saint Augustine ( A.D. 354 -430) would later spell out so clearly,and what that the Church reminds Bishops each year in the Reading of the Liturgy of the Hours: that if they do not correct the errors of those in their charge, they are themselves guilty of their charges' errors. What a great burden to bear , especially in the modern day, when error abounds. No wonder the Church prays for Bishops each time Holy Mass is said!

Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890) was a great student of the Early Fathers. In fact it was through that study that he came to recognise the authenticity of the Catholic Church and was converted. Blessed Cardinal Newman suffered greatly in the course of his conversion.As Cardinal George Pell has highlighted in the past, he endured ruptures with family and  friends , loss of social acceptability in the England of that time, and loss of standing, to a degree hard for us to imagine or appreciate to-day.

For the dissenters slithering about in our midst to-day, the conversion of such an Anglican luminary as Newman was, would be"ecumenically damaging"! How far some have travelled from the Truth in which we are all supposed to be one.

Blessed Cardinal Newman sought the Truth, and, led by God's Grace, his study of the Fathers made him  the forerunner of the many Protestant ministers, particularly in the United States, who have embraced the fullness of our Catholic Faith. Many of them are now vigorous and active Catholic apologists,writers and broadcasters.

The early Fathers lived in times of great turmoil and contention civilly and in the Church. They were not inclined to mince words: Saint Cyprian told one of his suffragans : "Your Diocese is a rubbish bin, and you are a fitting lid for it".That was 150 years before Saint Augustine.

Blessed Cardinal Newman would not be welcome to-day in many Australian Dioceses. He would discomfort so many of the clergy and religious - he was not "politically correct"- he used the "H" word.Yes, he actually named Heresy when he confronted it.

To-day's Heretics do not have the courage to leave the Church, but have rattled around for 30 or more years feeding off her and getting mighty sleek and arrogant  in the process.Names like Fiorenza, Thomas Groome, Richard McBrien, Karl Rahner, Schillibeecx, spring to mind. They have attempted the de-construction and destruction of the Catholic Faith and have found fertile and receptive ground in once Catholic educational institutions in the West. Blessed Cardinal Newman's incisive mind and language would have decimated them and their efforts to deny and undo the constant teaching of the Church on Sacred Scripture, the nature of the Church,the Sacraments and Contraception and Homosexuality etc.Blessed Cardinal Newman was not one for ambiguity or euphemism where Truth was at issue. He would have been their implacable foe.
Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman

Blessed Cardinal Newman did not of course have the benefit of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, rather , his thinking inspired inspired much of that teaching. Equally he did not have to suffer the burdensome false "spirit of the Council" - a poison which is now slowly subsiding into the mire from which it came, as so many retirements come into effect.But it leaves behind it a great deal of the intellectual detritus of the 1960s.

He referred to the Laity saving the Church.We need to remember the history of the 150 years or so that preceded his times.The French Revolution and its attacks on the Church in France, Napoleon and his attacks on the Church across Europe, the imprisonment of two holy Popes, the loss of the Papal States, the Penal Laws in Ireland : the Church was reeling under these cruel blows. There is no doubt that what he predicted did happen. After the Council,  Mass attendances soared to around 65%, most went regularly to Confession and Communion , vocations to the Priesthood and the Religious Life flourished.Seminaries, Monasteries and Convents were being built and expanded, and the marvellous flowering of lay activity, devotion, scholarship and piety  was matched by an immense involvement in charitable works which, in a hostile civil environment, was vigorous and effective in promoting justice and meeting the needs of the many poor. The same Laity went on to oppose the Fascist, Nazi and Communist enemies of the Church, and in each case the enemies were defeated.

The Council was the First Vatican Council! Blessed Cardinal Newman was vindicated!

He would no doubt have become ill contemplating the course of events following the Second Vatican Council! Education was always dear to his heart. To-day he would be forced to contemplate our massive Catholic Education systems in which 95% of the students do not practise their Faith, do not pray, worship and they believe.........what?

To-day it is routine to judge by outcomes : what would happen if 95% of the Graduates of the Defence Force Academy would not fight, would not salute the flag and displayed no patriotic conviction. There would be a wholesale change in management and a total reform of the system, process and procedures.

And how would he, and should we, judge the collapse in religious observance in Australia from 65% to 15% ( and less than 10% in Townsville and in New Zealand)?

 Pope Saint John Paul II
We thank God for Saint Basil and for Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman. Equally, we thank God for the Pontificates of  Pope Saint John Paul II (the Great) who had been tried by fire in the tragedy of Nazi Aggression and yet again by the horrors of  effective Soviet conquest and occupation of his beloved Poland. He was a Philosopher and great teacher, a man of great holiness and strong personality, who led the Church out of the rubble of the Post-Conciliar period and into the World to confront and convert it, not to be accommodated to it; we thank Him too for our Emeritus Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI an equally holy man, a shy person and modest, who is a great theologian and clear teacher and brilliant analyst of modern day society, for all these characteristics he is greatly loved and admired and keenly supported as he works to restore Catholic identity, build Christian unity and to restore the sense of the sacred to the Sacred Liturgy at the heart of the life of the Church.



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