Monday 20th March 2023

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

Lent, The Holy Cross, And The Current Crisis In The Church

March 17, 2023 Frontpage No Comments


The arrival of Lent each year always sets before our eyes in the Gospel of its first Sunday the three futile attempts of Satan to tempt our Lord. It is in the third of these that Satan makes his ultimate offer:
“. . . the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; and he said to Him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Begone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve”” (Mt 4:8-10).
The devil’s insane project to tempt the Son of God ended in a totally humiliating defeat, but it has not deterred him from making the same wicked offer to every one of our Lord’s disciples down through the centuries. And he has not hesitated to make this offer even to the Church herself. It comes in the guise of a plan to make the Church harmonize her message, her teachings, with the spirit of the world: that the vast media-dispensed treasures of the world’s admiration and applause will be emptied at the Church’s feet if she would only bring her message into alignment with what contemporary secular culture craves.
The Devil has even found some priests and prelates to make the pitch for this conformity to the world, cleverly couched in the vocabulary of “Church reform.” The Bride of Christ would thus be reduced to being the toiling slave of the world’s mediocrity.
In his 2019 book Roman Encounters, His Eminence Gerhard Cardinal Muller astutely identifies this counterfeit “reform” of the Church for what it really is, stating:
“What is currently understood by reforms that are held to be necessary is much more a secularization of the Church…. The Church no longer serves the world on its journey to God but rather offers Her services to it so as to make Herself useful as one of many social initiatives” (Roman Encounters: The Unity of the Faith and the Holy See’s Responsibility for the Universal Church, Irondale, AL, EWTN Publishing, 2019, p. 165).
Nearly a half-century earlier, the illustrious philosopher and champion of Catholic orthodoxy Dietrich von Hildebrand (1889-1977) warned of the grave danger from those wanting the Church to imbibe the spirit of the world:
“Hand in hand with the illusion of progress goes the most fatal disease ravaging the Church: this-worldliness. By this-worldliness I mean the emphasis on the amelioration of this world and the earthly welfare of man in contradistinction to the glorification of God and the eternal welfare of man. According to this deplorable error, the Church should now concern herself above all with the social order, with social justice, peace among nations and ecumenism, instead of the sanctification of the individual soul and the glorification of God through the conversion of all men to Christ and His holy Church.… No, 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” (“The Illusion of Progress,” in The Charitable Anathema, Ridgefield, CT, Roman Catholic Books, 1993, pp. 127-128).
If the Church is to remain totally faithful to the Gospel message entrusted to her by Christ, then conflict with a world addicted to pleasure and self-gratification is inevitable. Our Lord foretold this at the Last Supper when He declared, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-19).
The liturgical season of Lent affords us a prime opportunity to renew our personal commitment in this battle to uphold the immutable truths of Christ. It is a battle to stand fast beneath the Cross of Christ, the trophy of victory that will defeat the spirit of the world, the spirit of the Antichrist. In a treatise on the Antichrist written about 200 AD, the Church Father and priest St. Hippolytus of Rome (+c. 236) describes in vivid symbolic detail the Church in her battle against the Antichrist as a ship in stormy seas, assured of ultimate victory by her Captain, her crew, and the mast that towers over her deck:
“But we who hope for the Son of God are persecuted and trodden down by those unbelievers…the sea is the world, in which the Church is set, like a ship tossed in the deep, but not destroyed; for she has with her the skilled Pilot, Christ. And she bears in her midst also the trophy (which is erected) over death; for she carries with her the Cross of the Lord. For her prow is the east, and her stem is the west, and her hold is the south, and her tillers are the two Testaments; and the ropes that stretch around her are the love of Christ, which binds the Church; and the net which she bears with her is the laver of the regeneration which renews the believing, whence too are these glories. As the wind the Sprit from heaven is present, by whom those who believe are sealed: she has also anchors of iron accompanying her, viz., the holy commandments of Christ Himself which are strong as iron. She has also mariners on the right and on the left, assessors like the holy angels, by whom the Church is always governed and defended. The ladder in her leading up to the sailyard is an emblem of the passion of Christ, which brings the faithful to the ascent of heaven. And the top-sails aloft upon the yard are the company of prophets, martyrs, and apostles, who have entered into their rest in the kingdom of Christ” (St. Hippolytus of Rome, Treatise on Christ and Antichrist, n. 59, in The Anti-Nicene Fathers: Volume V: Hippolytus, Cyprian, Caius, Novatian, Appendix, ed. A. Cleveland Coxe, New York, Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886, pp. 216-217).
This imagery of the Church as a ship, first found in the writings of the Church Fathers, flourished in late medieval art, with the image of the Cross as the ship’s mast fully developed into a depiction of the mast as a crucifix, the “antenna crucifixi” as the art history scholar Achim Timmermann identifies it in his comprehensive recent study of this naval imagery of the Church. Describing the underlying message of these ship images, Timmermann concludes, “. . . centered as they are by the victorious crucifix mast, these vessels sail straight through the whirlpools of moral contamination to eventually arrive at the Port of Salvation” (“Cathedrals and Castles of the Sea: Ships, Allegory and Technological Change in Pre-Reformation Northern Europe,” Baltic Journal of Art History, volume 18, Autumn 2019, pp. 7-74; quotation on 72-73).

The Heroism Of St. Ursula And Her Companions

A significant number of the examples of this ecclesial ship imagery cited by Timmermann are portrayals of a maritime scene from the life of the virgin martyr St. Ursula and her companions; thus the ship in these pictures represents both the vessel in Ursula’s own story and Holy Mother Church as a ship. What is of particular interest here is how the theme of martyrdom represented by Ursula relates to our reflection upon Lent and the battle against the spirit of the world. In a Dresden altarpiece painting of the 1520s entitled The Ship of Saint Ursula, the German artist Jorg Breu the Elder (+1537) depicts the arrival of Ursula and her virgin companions in fourth-century Cologne, where their persecutors immediately wreak their bloody vengeance upon them.
Much has been written to discredit the story of Ursula and her companions as nothing more than a pious myth, yet harsh critics of this and other early accounts of the Christian martyrs have often enough overplayed their hand. Fantastic elements and embellishments in the written Acts of the Martyrs don’t mean that there isn’t a basic historical reality underlying the exaggerations and accretions. The 2004 Roman Martyrology, the latest official edition of the Church’s book of recognized saints and martyrs, still commemorates Ursula and her companions on their traditional feast day of October 21 as real martyrs, stating:
“At Cologne in Germany, the commemoration of the holy virgins, who consummated their lives in martyrdom for Christ where afterward a basilica of the city was constructed in honor of the hallowed maiden Ursula, an innocent virgin, considered as their leader” (Martyrologium Romanum, Vatican City, Typis Vaticanis, 2004, p. 582 — Latin text, ©2004 Libreria Editrice Vaticana; the English translation is my own).
So as far as Holy Mother Church is concerned, there was a real young woman of the fourth century named Ursula who together with her companions died as virgin martyrs for their faith. In his altarpiece panel painting Jorg Breu captures the utter pathos of what this means. As the maidens disembark from a ship at the center of the picture, a band of armed men butchers them to death, one of the soldiers ruthlessly thrusting his lance down into his victim as another throws down a young woman he is about to slay with his sword. One of the virgins covers her face as a soldier pulls her by the hair.
On the ship’s deck can be seen Ursula seated at the foot of the ship’s mast, already stricken with an arrow through her throat yet calm in the face of death. Immediately beside her a young girl in a white dress strives to comfort a terrified companion as the two of them are about to be pierced by the arrows flying toward them.
It is the ship’s mast that testifies as to how Ursula and her companions are finding the courage to suffer this very cruel fate. For the mast is the Cross of Calvary in all its stark reality, with Christ hanging in death from its arms. An iridescent corona surrounding our Lord gives visual expression to the invisible strength that He is imparting by His own sacrificial death upon the women dying below.
With the noxious din of those who want to give the Church a radical makeover growing ever louder, let us steel our own resolve to stay the course with Christ Crucified through our Lenten prayers and sacrifices, finding in the Cross the strength to believe as strongly as the martyrs believed, and to love as deeply as the martyrs did, with a love strong as death.

Share Button

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

Biden administration pats itself on the back for shooting down China balloon - meanwhile southern border is wide open to the Chinese.

House Republicans approved 2 #ProLife measures.

The first measure would ban #Abortion on babies born alive and require the babies be given medical care and treatment. The other measure condemned a spurt of growing attacks against crisis pregnancy centers.

House Republicans Pass Pro-Life Bills

House Republicans on Jan. 11 approved two pro-life measures. The first measure passed by the House would ban abortion ...

Load More...

Vatican and USCCB leave transgender policy texts unpublished

While U.S. bishops have made headlines for releasing policies addressing gender identity and pastoral ministry, guidelines on the subject have been drafted but not published by both the U.S. bishops’ conference and the Vatican’s doctrinal office, leaving diocesan bishops to…Continue Reading

Biden says Pope Francis told him to continue receiving communion, amid scrutiny over pro-abortion policies

President Biden said that Pope Francis, during their meeting Friday in Vatican City, told him that he should continue to receive communion, amid heightened scrutiny of the Catholic president’s pro-abortion policies.  The president, following the approximately 90-minute-long meeting, a key…Continue Reading

Federal judge rules in favor of Gov. DeSantis’ mask mandate ban

MIAMI (LifeSiteNews) – A federal judge this week handed Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis another legal victory on his mask mandate ban for schools. On Wednesday, Judge K. Michael Moore of the Southern District of Florida denied a petition from…Continue Reading

The Eucharist should not be received unworthily, says Nigerian cardinal

Priests have a duty to remind Catholics not to receive the Eucharist in a state of serious sin and to make confession easily available, a Nigerian cardinal said at the International Eucharistic Congress on Thursday. “It is still the doctrine…Continue Reading

Donald Trump takes a swipe at Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him

Donald Trump complained about Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him in 2020. The former president made the comments in a conference call featuring religious leaders. The move could be seen to shore up his religious conservative base…Continue Reading

Y Gov. Kathy Hochul Admits Andrew Cuomo Covered Up COVID Deaths, 12,000 More Died Than Reported

When it comes to protecting people from COVID, Andrew Cuomo is already the worst governor in America. New York has the second highest death rate per capita, in part because he signed an executive order putting COVID patients in nursing…Continue Reading

Prayers For Cardinal Burke . . . U.S. Cardinal Burke says he has tested positive for COVID-19

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke said he has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. In an Aug. 10 tweet, he wrote: “Praised be Jesus Christ! I wish to inform you that I have recently…Continue Reading

Democrats Block Amendment Banning Late-Term Abortions, Stopping Abortions Up to Birth

Senate Democrats have blocked an amendment that would ban abortions on babies older than 20 weeks. During consideration of the multi-trillion spending package, pro-life Louisiana Senator John Kennedy filed an amendment to ban late-term abortions, but Democrats steadfastly support killing…Continue Reading

Transgender student wins as U.S. Supreme Court rebuffs bathroom appeal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to a transgender former public high school student who waged a six-year legal battle against a Virginia county school board that had barred him from using the bathroom corresponding…Continue Reading

New York priest accused by security guard of assault confirms charges have now been dropped

NEW YORK, June 17, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — A New York priest has made his first public statement regarding the dismissal of charges against him.  Today Father George W. Rutler reached out to LifeSiteNews and other media today with the following…Continue Reading

21,000 sign petition protesting US Catholic bishops vote on Biden, abortion

More than 21,000 people have signed a letter calling for U.S. Catholic bishops to cancel a planned vote on whether President Biden should receive communion.  Biden, a Catholic, supports abortion rights and has long come under attack from some Catholics over that…Continue Reading

Bishop Gorman seeks candidates to fill two full time AP level teaching positions for the 2021-2022 school year in the subject areas of Calculus/Statistics and Physics

Bishop Thomas K. Gorman Regional Catholic School is a college preparatory school located in Tyler, Texas. It is an educational ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Tyler led by Bishop Joseph Strickland. The sixth through twelfth grade school provides a…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


Today . . .

">Cardinals Burke . . . SAME-SEX UNION BLESSINGS?

Longtime teacher fired after discussing God in classroom, challenging ‘evil’ LGBT school policy

(LifeSiteNews) — A longtime public school teacher in Idaho was let go earlier this month for being unafraid to mention God in the classroom and voicing his objections to a pro-LGBT policy designed to promote “transgender” ideologies among young people.  Ian O’Connell, a Catholic teacher who served as a substitute in the public institutions of Caldwell School District for over 20 years, spoke on February 13 about a proposed “gender identity and sexual orientation” policy that…Continue Reading

Murder investigation underway in shooting death of LA Auxiliary Bishop O’Connell

The shooting death of Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop David G. O’Connell Saturday is being investigated as a homicide, authorities have confirmed. “This incident is being handled as a murder investigation,” the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) said in a statement Sunday. No additional details were released. “We learned early this morning from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office that they have determined that the d

FBI whistleblower releases docs showing agency is surveilling ‘Radical’ Latin Mass Catholics

RICHMOND, Virginia (LifeSiteNews) — A document released by an FBI whistleblower indicates the agency plans to intensify its “assessment” and “mitigation” of “Radical Traditionalist Catholics” over the next 12 to 24 months due to alleged concerns that “white nationalists” are increasingly making common cause online with attendees of the Latin Mass.

MN Catholics Pass Radical Abortion Bill

SAINT PAUL, Minn. ( – Catholic legislators have been instrumental in the nation’s most radical abortion bill becoming state law.  The so-called Protect Reproductive Options Act, or PRO Act, allows for the killing of unborn babies up until birth — by any method, with no maternal age restrictions and for any reason. Minnesota’s Senate passed the lethal legislation on Saturday, following 15 hours of debate. As promised, Gov. Tim Walz, a two-term Democrat, signed the bill into law on Tuesday afternoon.  “We are enacting the most extreme bill…Continue Reading

300th Catholic Church Attacked Since 2020

(Wanderer Editor’s Note: This March 13 article is reprinted from with their permission. All rights reserved.) + + (CV News Feed) — An act of vandalism against a Catholic church in Connecticut over the weekend marked a grim milestone: The 300th known attack on a Catholic church in America since the spring of 2020.Police…Continue Reading

St. Veronica And Face-Face Human Relationships

By DONALD DeMARCO The sixth of the 14 Stations of the Cross tells us that “Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.” According to tradition, Christ left an imprint of His face on the veil (or cloth) that she used. Veronica looked upon Christ’s bloodstained face with sympathy, Christ responded with an expression of His loving…Continue Reading

Destroy The Mexican Drug Cartels

By JOSH HAMMER The tragic killing of two U.S. citizens this past week in the border town of Matamoros, Mexico, should, in a just world, refocus American attention on the glaring problem of transnational drug cartels’ de facto control of large swaths of our perilously porous southern border.That the two Americans killed may have been…Continue Reading

“God Really Intervened”. . . How A Priest Escaped From His Kidnappers In Haiti

By DIEGO LOPEZ MARINA SANTO DOMINGO (CNA) — Fr. Antoine Macaire Christian Noah, a Claretian priest from Cameroon, escaped unharmed from a crime gang that had kidnapped him in Haiti last month and has been taken to another country for his safety.On March 2, Fr. Fausto Cruz Rosa, major superior of the Antilles Delegation of…Continue Reading

Utah Legislature Passes Bill Banning All Abortion Clinics

By MICAIAH BILGER SALT LAKE CITY (LifeNews) — A bill to ban abortion facilities in Utah passed the state legislature Thursday, March 3 by an overwhelming majority.After the Utah Senate voted 22-6, the bill now heads to Gov. Spencer Cox, a pro-life Republican, who said he supports the bill, the Associated Press reports.Sponsored by State…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

The Glory Of The Son Of God

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Fifth Sunday Of Lent (YR A) Readings: Ezek. 37:12-14Romans 8:8-11John 11:1-45 In the first reading today, God promises us through the Prophet Ezekiel that He will open the graves of His people and have them rise from their graves. This is the promise of the Resurrection. This needs to be made clear because in the Gospel…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: This series on the Bible is from the book Catholicism & Scripture. Please feel free to use the series for high schoolers or adults. We will continue to welcome your questions for the column as well. Please see the contact information at the end of the column. Special Course On Catholicism And Scripture (Chapter 15) After some fifty…Continue Reading

The Rampage Of The Lawless

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK One supposes that the truth becomes “safe” for liars once they control the levers of power and thus can take credit for finally disseminating it, or allowing it be to spread. The power of elected office or bureaucratic privilege is instrumentalized for its own perpetuation at whim through a manipulation of the facts. We are…Continue Reading

The Conditions For Mortal Sin Are Not That Hard To Meet

By MSGR. CHARLES POPE (Editor’s Note: Msgr. Charles Pope posted this commentary on March 5 and it is reprinted here with permission. Msgr. Pope is the pastor of Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian in Washington, D.C.) + + Recent and public conversations about the nature of mortal sin, the reception of Holy Communion and worthiness to receive the Eucharist have shown how…Continue Reading

Reject Evil And Live For The Son Of God

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Fourth Sunday Of Lent (YR A) Readings: 1 Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13Eph. 5:8-14John 9:1-41 In the first reading today, we see one of the most typical of human actions: judging by appearances. God sends Samuel to anoint the king He has chosen. Samuel does not know who the man is, but he does know that he…Continue Reading

Crushed But Unbroken . . . The Martyrdom Of St. Margaret Clitherow

By RAY CAVANAUGH The late-1500s were a tough time for Catholics in England, where the Reformation was in full gear. A 1581 law prohibited Catholic religious ceremonies. And a 1584 Act of Parliament mandated that all Catholic priests leave the country or else face execution. Some chose to remain, however, so they could continue serving the faithful.Also taking huge risks…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Bernardine Of Siena (1380-1444)

By DEB PIROCH The year Siena lost its famed St. Catherine, it gained a new future saint; St. Bernardine Albizeschi, later St. Bernardine of Siena, OFM, known as the “Apostle of Italy.” He was a great friar preacher who would win souls for God.Being born in 1380 of a noble family did not protect him from heartache, but the prayers…Continue Reading