Wednesday 17th July 2019

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

Book Review… A Classic Critique Of Postconciliar Modernism

August 14, 2018 Featured Today No Comments


Dietrich von Hildebrand, The Charitable Anathema, new 2017 foreword by Raymond Cardinal Burke. $22.95; Roman Catholic Books, P.O. Box 1209, Ridgefield, CT 06877;

In his address at the July 21, 2018 “Humanae Vitae at 50” conference brilliantly organized by Fr. Sean Connolly at Immaculate Conception Church in Tuckahoe, N.Y., which I had the great pleasure of attending (see Fr. Sean Connolly’s summary, “A Parish Celebrates . . . ‘Humanae Vitae at 50’ Welcomes Outstanding Speakers,” The Wanderer, August 9, 2018, p. 1A), the moral theologian and spiritual author Fr. Donald Haggerty made the telling observation that the radical theological ideas rampant over the years immediately following Vatican II have of late enjoyed an unhappy resurgence.
It is therefore quite timely that the reflections of one of the greatest Catholic minds of the twentieth century, Dietrich Von Hildebrand (1889-1977), in countering the falsehoods of postconciliar modernism have become available again in a new edition of the collection, The Charitable Anathema, graced with a September 2017 foreword by His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke.
Cardinal Burke points out the particular value of von Hildebrand’s philosophical perspective in defining the issues at stake treated in these essays, wherein the renowned educator, lecturer, and author masterfully identifies the underlying prejudices, false assumptions, and motivations for the many manifestations of postconciliar modernism.
In the lead essay that has lent its title, “The Charitable Anathema,” to the collection as a whole, Von Hildebrand explains that essential to the Church’s identity and very purpose is “the absolute primacy of divine truth, which is the very primacy of God” (p. 1).
This is the reason why the Church goes out to evangelize the entire world (p. 2). The profession and defense of truth in its undiluted clarity necessitates the rejection of falsehood. Von Hildebrand observes that in the years following the Second Vatican Council all too many succumbed to a misguided fear of confrontation, disagreement, and disharmony to the point of refusing to combat error and falsehood in the name of an illusory and superficial “peace” of remaining silent in the face of evil (p. 2).
Von Hildebrand draws on his own experience of his personal battle against Nazism wherein he was told to make peace with the Catholics who acquiesced in Nazism rather than continuing his campaign against this evil ideology (p. 2).
Answering the critics who vilify orthodox Catholics for their refusal to go along “peaceably” with the dissemination of heresies, for their supposed refusal to “accept change,” Von Hildebrand observes, “. . . we should rejoice that there still are faithful Catholics, and that they raise their voices against heresies, for God expects that of them” (p. 3).
It is incredible just how deeply our society has been deformed by means of “verbal weapons” (p. 49), the manipulation of language by “intellectual swindlers” as Von Hildebrand calls them (p. 45). He cites the ideologically driven use of the terms “positive” and “negative” whereby the propagandists of error extol their own beliefs as “positive” and demonize any opposition or refutation to their ideas as “negative” (pp. 45-47, 83-84).
Yet to say “no” to error is no less “positive” than saying “yes” to what is true, for it expresses “the same objectivity, the same love for truth, the same reverence before reality, the same transcendence” (p. 83).
Our Lord told Pilate, “My kingship is not of this world” (John 18:36). Yet for six decades now there have been those who would have it otherwise. Such individuals, as Von Hildebrand describes them, are “in love with the spirit of the world,” and seek to steer the Church into an agenda of secular pursuits instead of “the eternal welfare” of souls and “the glorification of God” (p. 146).
In a searing critique of this phenomenon that he insightfully dubs “this-worldliness,” calling it “the most fatal disease ravaging the Church” (p. 127), Von Hildebrand observes that the obsession with secular causes as if these were the Church’s highest priorities rather than saving souls and glorifying God is a perversion of what her true mission is: “. . . the real mission of the Church is not to strive for an earthly paradise, not to humanize the world together with atheists and communists, but to establish the reign of Christ in every individual soul” (p. 128).
One topic that His Eminence Cardinal Burke singles out in his foreword to this volume is Von Hildebrand’s deep understanding of the sacred liturgy, his grasp of “the theocentric character of the liturgical action and the proper response of deep reverence before the action of God” (p. x). In two of the essays Von Hildebrand speaks of his deep love for the Traditional Latin Mass and his sorrow upon its cessation following the issuance of the Roman Missal of 1970.
In expressing his strong reservations concerning the changes to the sacred liturgy, Von Hildebrand poses a series of telling questions as to what makes the celebration of the liturgy most efficacious. Does it “stir the human spirit?” “Does it evoke a sense of eternity? Does it help raise our hearts from the concerns of everyday life — from the purely natural aspects of the world — to Christ? Does it increase reverence, an appreciation of the sacred?” (p. 36). “Whence comes the disparagement of kneeling? Why should the Eucharist be received standing? Is not kneeling, in our culture, the classic expression of adoring reverence?” (p. 42).
With regard to what Von Hildebrand calls changeable “practical decisions” of the Holy See, for example in liturgical matters, he explains that while “we must obey such decisions and submit to them in reverence and deep respect,” there is an avenue of recourse for the clergy and the laity to express their concerns when they believe a particular decision is not for the greater good of the Church:
“If we are convinced that any practical change or decision is objectively unfortunate, noxious, compromising, imprudent, or unjust, we are permitted to pray that it may be revoked, to write in a respectful manner about the topic, to direct petitions for a change of it to the Holy Father — to attempt, in a variety of ways, to influence a reversal of the decision” (p. 29).
In penning this, Von Hildebrand particularly had in mind the loss of the Traditional Latin Mass. To the joy of many his hope and prayer that the Traditional Latin Mass would be “celebrated side by side with the new Ordo” (p. 33) has been fully realized following the July 2007 Moto proprio Summorum Pontificum of Pope Benedict XVI.
Many of us, I am sure, can attest to having heard homilies in which we were exhorted to be “open to the Spirit,” that “the Spirit” is going to “shake up” the Church to bring about change, with the implication being that “the Spirit” is intent upon ridding the Church of “rigid” adherence to rituals and moral absolutes. This sacrilegious reduction of the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity into an ideological slogan is yet another strategy identified by Von Hildebrand as one of the manifestations of postconciliar modernism.
Such propagandists exploit the “more mysteriously hidden” nature of the Holy Spirit “to interpret Him according to their own caprice,” casting Him as “a kind of Hegelian Weltgeist [world spirit], by way of justifying a continuing revelation and, hence, a continual change in its content” (p. 134).
According to this mentality, rather than following immutable Commandments we can decide for ourselves what is right or wrong simply by subjectively intuiting what we think the Holy Spirit is personally inspiring us to do — a very convenient excuse for breaking the Commandments, with the Holy Spirit fictitiously fashioned into little more than a projection and mouthpiece of a man’s own desires (p. 134).
Von Hildebrand is unflinching in his critique of postconciliar modernism’s propagandists, “false prophets” as he repeatedly calls them (pp. 78, 82-84), finding in their talks and writings an uncanny resemblance to the arrogant Nazi propaganda that he fought face-to-face in the 1930s, “the same preference for slogans, the same intellectual mediocrity, the same looking down on all the great, timeless contributions of former ages…the same irreverence, the same adolescent pride, the same self-congratulation at living in the present age,” citing as a prime example the rhetoric of the Swiss heretic Hans Kung (pp. 138-139).

Poisoning Souls

The late 1960s and 1970s were marked by an ideologically driven disintegration of catechetics. Von Hildebrand observes that the catechisms of that era proffered “a disfigurement of the sacred humanity of Christ” (p. 64). Appalled by this “radical destruction of the transmission of Catholic faith in Catholic grammar schools, high schools and colleges” (p. 77), he summons Catholic parents to exercise their right to safeguard the faith of their children from such defective materials:
“Written all over these textbooks which are this very day poisoning the souls of little children is a hatred of the sacred and of the supernatural. This demands more from Catholic parents than arguments: it demands action. The rights of Catholic parents in these matters were reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council. Their duty in the present hour is clear. They must not tolerate their children’s being force-fed a secularized Christianity” (p. 70).
Von Hildebrand debunks the progressives’ claim of a “real spirit of Vatican II” that trumps the actual words of the Council, that overrules the official decrees of the Council (pp. 51-53). He asks, “Whence do these persons derive the right to place themselves above the Council whenever they find it convenient?” (p. 52). Pointing out Vatican II’s repeated reaffirmations of doctrine from past councils, von Hildebrand concludes, “Vatican II was a ‘beginning’ only in the sense that every council of the Church has been a beginning….It promises not a new Church out of the old, but the same Church ever new” (p. 55).
Von Hildebrand was among the first to recognize and identify as mythological the idea of “modern man,” that mankind in our age is somehow inherently different from the generations that have come before and is therefore in need of a reformed religion fashioned to conform it to “the alleged spirit” of the modern age (pp. 84-87). He likewise recognized and warned of the great harm that was being done at the time by the concept of “experimentation” in both religious education and the sacred liturgy (pp. 87-89).
For anyone who wants to understand the crisis of the past six decades in the Church, this book is a “must read.” In Von Hildebrand we find that rare combination of deep spirituality, profound visionary insight, and clarity of expression. Running as a thread throughout these essays is his conviction that our real business in life is our transformation in Christ, not the pursuit of some earthbound utopia. In the face of materialistic, secularistic, desacralized, counterfeit versions of Catholicism, von Hildebrand summons us to the Sursum corda of raising our eyes to what it truly means to be a Catholic.

Share Button

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

"If men only know what awaits them in eternity they would do everything in their power to change their lives."
St Jacinta of Fatima

Has The Church Been Infiltrated?… And If So, By Whom? @TaylorRMarshall

Load More...

Tucker Carlson: big business is now at war against your family

July 15, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The first thing to note about Tucker Carlson is that when he’s on stage and riffing on his irritations, he is hilarious. He began his keynote speech at the National Conservatism conference in Washington, D.C. on Monday…Continue Reading

Teacher sues Catholic school for firing her over pro-abortion posts on social media

BERKELEY COUNTY, South Carolina, July 10, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A former teacher filed a wrongful termination suit against a South Carolina Catholic school that fired her for championing legal abortion on social media in violation of long-settled, well-known Catholic doctrine.…Continue Reading

Bombshell Claim: Scientists Find “Man-made Climate Change Doesn’t Exist In Practice”

A new scientific study could bust wide open deeply flawed fundamental assumptions underlying controversial climate legislation and initiatives such as the Green New Deal, namely, the degree to which ‘climate change’ is driven by natural phenomena vs. man-made issues measured as…Continue Reading

Cineplex explains decision to screen Abby Johnson’s ‘Unplanned’ in Canada

July 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The pro-life film Unplanned, which tells the true story of pro-life activist Abby Johnson’s conversion from the abortion industry, will be shown in Canada after all thanks to a decision by film distributor Cineplex. Unplanned tells the…Continue Reading

Viganò criticizes Pope Francis’ handling of abuse allegations

Vatican City, Jul 5, 2019 / 02:47 pm (CNA).- Recently published remarks from Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano take aim at two situations described by the former nuncio as “allegations of offenses against minors during Pope Francis’ tenure.” In fact, in…Continue Reading

U.S. Bishops Approve the Pope’s Capital Punishment Ban

Sæva indignatio. Few writers in the history of English letters could express “savage indignation” at human folly as did Jonathan Swift who wrote those words for his own epitaph. Our times give ample opportunity to empathize with him, and that is…Continue Reading

Due to backlash, Pell to live in ‘secure compound’ if appeal succeeds

Sydney, Australia, Jun 25, 2019 / 12:03 am (CNA).- While Cardinal George Pell of Australia is appealing his sexual abuse conviction in court, he and his supporters are making arrangements for a “safe hideaway” for the cleric, should his conviction…Continue Reading

Forced abortion decision overturned on appeal, according to reports

London, England, Jun 24, 2019 / 11:03 am (CNA).- A controversial UK court decision to force a disabled woman to have an abortion has been overturned on appeal. In a decision reportedly reached June 24, the English Court of Appeal, consisting…Continue Reading

Rosary Rally in Reparation for Homosexual and Transgender Grooming of Kids in “Drag Queen Story Hour” at Public Library in Md

A small group ranging from ten to 15 LGBTQ-obedient bots danced and played loud gay anthems like “YMCA” and “We are Family”, and holding a sign which read “Toleration is Godly”, sequestered behind yellow tape on one side of the…Continue Reading

Catholic Rosary Rally Sunday to Protest Maryland Drag Queen Story Time for Kids

Personhood Maryland is asking pro-life Christians to gather at the Lexington Park Library for a peaceful prayer vigil on Sunday, June 23rd from 3:30-5:30 pm Eastern to stand against the Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) and Drag 101 event scheduled…Continue Reading

Supreme Court rules WW1 Peace Cross memorial is here to stay

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 20, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7 to 2 this morning in favor of a nearly 100-year-old World War I memorial in Bladensburg, Maryland, known as the “Peace Cross,” allowing it to remain standing.…Continue Reading

Vatican’s doctrinal office expected to release document on gender theory

Vatican City, Jun 14, 2019 / 12:00 pm (CNA).- The Vatican’s doctrinal office is preparing a document which will address Church teaching and the anthropology of the human person in the context of so-called gender theory, according to a Vatican…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love


  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading


Today . . .

Vatican’s former doctrine head criticizes Amazon synod working doc for ‘false teaching’

July 16, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The cardinal who was tasked by Pope Benedict with defending the doctrine of the Catholic Church has criticized the Pan-Amazon Synod’s working document (Instrumentum Laboris) for its “radical u-turn in the hermeneutics of Catholic theology” and for its “false teaching.” Cardinal Gerhard Müller, former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), said the “main problem” with the working document is that “key terms are not being clarified.” His statement…Continue Reading

2 priests, 2 pro-life activists arrested trying to save babies inside New Jersey abortion center

MORRISTOWN, New Jersey, July 13, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Two Catholic priests and two lay pro-life activists were arrested this morning for entering and refusing to leave an abortion facility, offering red roses to the women inside and encouraging them to choose life. At least one woman turned away and didn’t go through with an abortion, Red Rose Rescue spokeswoman Lisa Hart told LifeSiteNews. The woman’s mother was forcing her to have the abortion.

Vincent Lambert, France’s Terri Schiavo, dies after 9 days without food and water

July 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Vincent Lambert, the disabled man a court ordered to be starved to death in a French hospital, died this morning. After nine days without food and fluids, showing a remarkable will to live despite the cruel death of thirst that doctors had prepared for him, France’s Terri Schiavo departed from this earthly life at 8:24 a.m. on Thursday, July 11. He died of heart failure induced by the malfunction of his kidneys…Continue Reading

Cdl. Zen warns Pope Francis that Vatican directives for China church may lead to ‘death of true faith’

HONG KONG, July 5, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong has spoken out forcefully against the Vatican’s newest “pastoral document” for the Chinese Church which gives reasons for why priests should register with the communist government. Cardinal Joseph Zen presented nine criticisms to Pope Francis and Cardinal Pietro

Archbishop Fulton Sheen to be beatified

Vatican City, Jul 6, 2019 / 04:00 am (CNA).- Pope Francis approved the miracle attributed to Archbishop Fulton Sheen Friday, making possible the American television catechist’s beatification. The Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints promulgated the decree approving Sheen’s miracle on July 6. The miracle involves the unexplained recovery of James Fulton Engstrom, a boy born apparently stillborn in September 2010 to Bonnie and Travis Engstrom of the Peoria-area town of Goodfield. He showed no…Continue Reading


Archbishop Sheen To Be Beatified

By COURTNEY GROGAN VATICAN CITY (CNA) — Pope Francis approved the miracle attributed to Archbishop Fulton Sheen on July 5, making possible the American television catechist’s beatification. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints promulgated the decree approving Sheen’s miracle on July 6. The miracle involves the unexplained recovery of James Fulton Engstrom, a boy born…Continue Reading

California Confessional Bill Withdrawn… Thanks To All For A Smashing Victory

By BILL DONOHUE (Editor’s Note: Catholic League President Bill Donohue commented July 9 on the final outcome of the California confessional bill.) + + + The seal of Confession is safe in California. The bill to bust it has been pulled. Yesterday, [July 8] on the eve of a scheduled hearing on SB 360, California…Continue Reading

Looking For Light In A World Of Shadows

By DONALD DeMARCO Nothing is random in the light of eternity and when viewed in this way, everything makes sense. To God, there are no accidents. Even forgetfulness can be an occasion of grace, a moment when we find light in a darkened world. There were distractions that might have made my forgetfulness explainable that…Continue Reading

Trump’s Patriotism Vs. The New Anti-Americanism

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN Despite all the grousing and griping about his “politicizing” of the Fourth of July and “militarizing” America’s birthday, President Donald Trump turned the tables on his antagonists, and pulled it off. As master of ceremonies and keynote speaker at his “Salute to America” Independence Day event, Trump was a manifest success.…Continue Reading

Analysis . . . New Vatican Constitution To Centralize Power In State Secretariat

By ED CONDON VATICAN CITY (CNA) — At the end of June, Bishop Marcello Semeraro, secretary of the Pope’s C6 Council of Cardinal Advisers, announced that the group hoped to present Francis with a final draft of a new Vatican constitution in September. Praedicate Evangelium, as the new governing document for the Roman Curia is…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Serve Others With Charity

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Sixteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: Gen. 18:1-10a Col. 1:24-28 Luke 10:38-42 In the Gospel reading today, we hear about Martha welcoming Jesus and serving Him. Martha became burdened with the task of serving and asked the Lord if He did not care that Mary, her sister who was sitting at the feet of…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World . . . Sexual Immorality Begins With Teaching Failures

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK “For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. “But you have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to stumble by your instruction; you have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Answering a question in a recent column about the meaning of “Jesuitical,” we said that it can mean “dissembling or equivocating, in the manner associated with Jesuits.” We cited as an example of an attempt to skirt around some clear moral teaching of the Church a 2017 comment by the superior general of the Society of Jesus. When…Continue Reading

Before And After the Pill . . . Its Redefinition Of Human Sexuality And Impact On Society

By FR. SHENAN J. BOQUET (Editor’s Note: Fr. Shenan Boquet is the president of Human Life International. He travels around the world spreading the Gospel of Life. Fr. Boquet was ordained in 1993 and is a priest of the Houma-Thibodaux Diocese in Louisiana, his home state, where he served before joining HLI in August 2011. (This commentary first appeared July…Continue Reading

Love God And Love Neighbor

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Fifteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: Deut. 30:10-14 Col. 1:15-20 Luke 10:25-37 Toward the end of the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses pleads with the people of Israel: “If only you would heed the voice of the Lord your God….” It was the failure of the people to follow the Commandments of the Lord that…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . Sts. Louis And Azelie-Marie Guerin Martin

By CAROLE BRESLIN The Lord sends the Church the men and women who are needed to keep her holy in times of trouble. Among these are: St. Francis of Assisi, St. John of the Cross, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Faustina, and the first married couple ever to be canonized together: Louis and Azelie-Marie (Zelie) Martin. Their feast day is…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Nazaria March y Mesa

By CAROLE BRESLIN Throughout the 2,000-year history of the Church, there have been periods of great conversions followed by a waning of the faith among future generations. After the initial persecution of the Church during the few hundred years following Christ’s crucifixion and death, the Church grew rapidly. In Latin America, the Catholic Church expanded rapidly after the appearance of…Continue Reading