The Sacrifice of Cain

by Bernard Brandt

Well, gentle readers, I have completed my series of essays entitled, The Blood is the Life. The thesis of that essay was that the crisis of the Roman Catholic Church can basically be described as an immune deficiency syndrome in the Body of Christ; that the clergy serve the functions of the circulatory system, the blood, and the immune system of that Body; that those functions are impeded in the clergy because of their poor education, and their several disobediences to and ignorances of Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium; and that the present crisis will continue until both laity and clergy disabuse themselves of that ignorance.

That said, a few words to Traditionalists and Modernists may be in order.

To Roman Catholic Traditionalists, I have the following to say:

You have largely spoken and acted toward the Modernists with a singular lack of charity, because you have assumed, mistakenly, that those Modernists have acted as they have out of malice. You forget Napoleon’s maxim: “Never ascribe to malice what can adequately be explained by incompetence.” Most Modernists commit liturgical abuses, or talk theological rot, not because they are evil, but because they are woefully ignorant of the basics. And most Modernist priests fail or refuse to say the Old Mass, or even a reverend New Mass, not because they don’t want to (though that is a part of it) but because they CAN’T. It’s just that simple.

In short, you must learn how to stop hating the Modernists, and instead pity them, pray for them, and attempt to teach them. Come on, guys: you know the Seven Spiritual Works of Mercy, or at least you should: “To instruct the ignorant; to counsel the doubtful; to admonish sinners; to bear wrongs patiently; to forgive offenses willingly; to comfort the afflicted; and to pray for the living and the dead.” Please start trying them.

And finally, I offer three paragraphs of advice. The first is that it would be much better for you, if you have not already done so, to find a church or monastery or community of prayer where the priest actually knows and lives the faith of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, and to worship there. Yeah, I know: such places and people are rarer than hen’s teeth. Still and all, we each and every one of us need to be spiritually fed. We can’t help others if we are unable to help ourselves.

And the second paragraph is this. Worship is necessary, through your prayer, your fasting, and your almsgiving. All this is necessary, but it is not sufficient. You need to study as well. Read Scripture. Read the Fathers of the Church, who all give witness to the Apostolic Tradition. Read the Lives of the Saints. Read the Councils of the Church. And include the Second Vatican Council in your reading, if only to mark the extraordinary difference between the rot that has long been talked of it, and what the Council Fathers actually wrote.

But wait! There’s more! I would strongly suggest that if you haven’t already done so, that you read Canon Law, or at the very least, those canons which concern themselves with the duties and rights of all Christian faithful, and the duties and rights of all lay Christian faithful. You can not assert or defend your rights as Christians if you don’t know what they are.

To Modernist lay people, let me just say that the above four paragraphs apply to you as well. Go and sin no more.

And, to Modernist Clergy, Bishops, Priests and Deacons, permit me to read you the Riot Act, as follows:

Yes, I realize that you have served poor liturgies, and have dis-served the people under your charge, largely because of your ignorance. Let me remind you, then, because you have largely forgotten your Latin, of this commonplace of both civil and canon law: Ignorantia legis neminem excusatThis is certainly the case for those, such as yourselves, whose charge it is to serve the Divine Liturgy, and to preach the Faith.

I realize that not all of what follows applies to each of you equally. May I suggest however, that if the shoe fits, then wear it. Or as that great philosopher, Ross Douthat, once said, “Own your heresy.”

–If you lop off sections of the Canon of the Mass, or improvise or change the texts of that Mass, or fail to do any preparation of your sermon, then you not only break liturgical law; you not only deny the faithful their right to a properly served liturgy under canon law; but Jeremiah informs us that you earn and deserve God’s curse: “A curse on anyone who is lax in doing the LORD’s work!” Jer. 48:10.

–If you serve the Divine Liturgy while wearing the greasepaint and garments of a clown, or while wearing the costumes of Muppets, or the costumes of any modern movie such as Star Wars, or any of the other manifold sins of the past fifty years, then not only do you break the above laws and deserve the above curses; not only do you break the hearts of the faithful and elevate the spirits of the demons; but you are one with those Roman soldiers who dressed Our Lord in the purple garment of mockery, who crowned Him with thorns, who handed Him a reed for a staff, and who smote His bloodied Crown with that reed.

–If you elevate your personal opinion above that of the consistent witness of Scripture, Tradition, and the Teaching Authority of the Church, and if you teach that opinion from the lectern, from the pulpit, or from the cathedra, then not only do you err; not only do you lead other people into your error; but you richly deserve the condemnation of St. John Chrysostom, who said “The road to Hell is paved with the skulls of erring priests, and is lit by the skulls of erring bishops!”

–In short, if you do any of these things, you merely offer the Sacrifice of Cain, who offered, not what God had asked, but what Cain wanted to give. And you will receive no blessing for it. To say the least.