Today’s memorial for Sts Timothy and Titus is a lesson in apostolic succession. St Paul ordains the next generation and hands his apostolic authority on to Timothy and Titus. This should remind us of the astonishing fact of the continued existence of the Catholic Church. Apart from the survival of the Jews, the survival of the Catholic Church is one of history’s most amazing realities.

Of course I realize that there are other ancient religions. Buddhism goes back to the sixth century BC and Hinduism is even older, but both religions have existed at a cultural level rather than a formal institutional level. Catholicism is not just a cultural and spiritual entity, but is also an institutional entity. It has buildings and canon law, a hierarchy, a formal structure and is composed of a whole integrated system of philosophy, morals, liturgy, spirituality, economics and ethics.

I often think of this as I am vesting to say Mass. I wear the alb, don the stole, pull on the chasuble and think how odd and wonderful it is that I am a man in America in the 21st century donning the robes of a Roman patrician from two thousand years ago. We are blessed to worship in a beautiful new Romanesque church which echoes the basilica churches of Rome and as such we worship in continuity with the past in a way that is real, solid and substantial.

This is the strength of tradition–rather than it being a dull routine or even worse–a chain that binds us, these traditions are roots that run deep in Western culture and run even more deeply back into ancient Rome and further back into the religion of the Hebrews.

This is ever more important to me–and should be to all of us–in the whirlwind world in which we live. All around us things are changing. People are bewildered. Yeats poem, The Second Coming is quoted here there and everywhere. Written 100 years ago as the world stumbled forth from a terrible pandemic, a world war and economic collapse, we feel the same uncertainty and fear:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
Where is the center that will hold? How do we escape the quicksand? Where is the rock on which to stand? Where is the path out of the wasteland? Where is the voice to trust, the leader who does not lie, the one in who we can place our hope?
If you are a Catholic take heart and take root in our deep and wonderful Catholic traditions.
Our RCIA class is full this year and a few weeks ago I spoke with one of the candidates. He is a nice guy in his twenties. He had no religion and decided that the world was falling apart and he needed something bigger and more trustworthy than a cheap ideology or a politician. He turned to religion and said, “I looked around, and it seemed that Catholicism was the only one that had any depth.”
This is why so many young people are also turning to traditional Catholicism. They are looking for roots. They are looking for that rock on which to stand. The days of easy, happy clappy sappy religion are over. The smooth talking charlatans that tell you everything will be alright as long as you buy into their compromised religion of moralistic therapeutic deism have had their day. At this time they are jumping into bed with the leftists as quickly as you can say “Grandma what big eyes you have” and they will find that those same atheistic friends will turn on them and bite them too.
So if you are feeling confused and afraid, bewildered and disturbed put down deep roots in our Catholic church. The church of Sts Timothy and Titus and all the saints has stood for two thousand years and if I remember correctly the Lord Jesus himself said the gates of hell will never prevail against it.