The opposites of “rigid” are more unflattering than rigidity:
lenient indulgent broken compromising easy imprecise indefinite inexact irresolute unfixed unreliable accommodating liberal permissive resigned soft-hearted
And that’s the problem with name-calling. When we impose a derogatory label on someone, we invite scrutiny upon ourselves. We label ourselves as the opposite of the names we impose on others.
Some of us are better at name-calling, or “labelling,” than others. Donald Trump does a lot of labeling. But the opposites of the names Donald Trump calls people are the kinds of labels most people want. The opposite of “low-energy Jeb” is “high-energy Trump.” The opposite of “sleepy Joe” is “alert Donald.” You get the idea.
Pope Francis sucks as name-calling. He calls people “rigid.” People who pray the Rosary daily, pray the prayers of the Auxilium Christianorum, attend Latin Mass where we fall to our knees before the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord. In short, orthodox Catholics are rigid in Francis’s mind.
When Pope Francis calls me “rigid,” he is effectively calling himself squishy, unfixed, irresolute, and permissive. Not good qualities for the leader of a billion Catholics.
He’s right, though. I am kind of rigid. I try to be rigid. To paraphrase Barry Goldwater, “Rigidity in the defense of Truth is no vice, and squishiness in the pursuit of salvation is no virtue.”
But the need for rigidity goes deeper than mere political slogans. For we are in a battle against the ultimate evil, and we are losing.
Eric Sammons wrote recently on his experiences with true evil and true good. On OnePeterFive.com, Sammons wrote in the article Not Against Flesh and Blood:
Most of us knelt in prayer as the pro-aborts began to circle us and in a lower voice chanted, “Kill the Christians, kill the Christians” and “Bring back the lions.” The other (Catholic) pro-lifers continued to pray their rosaries. But I started to get spooked and even a bit frightened for our physical safety. I looked up into the eyes of one of the pro-aborts; what I saw was blackness and evil. There was no question in my mind that this person was possessed. I don’t mean figuratively, but literally possessed by a demon. I believe that all the pro-aborts there that night were.
I have read literally hundreds of similar accounts in recent months. From police officers and other first responders, from former atheists, from former Satanists, from life-long Christians, from priests and exorcists, from people whose encounters with evil turned them toward Christ, as well as those whose demonic experiences left them convinced of Satan but doubtful of God.
I realize that in 2019 you, dear reader, are expected to consider me a kook and a crackpot and a nut for even mentioning Satan and the diabolical as real things. Even the Jesuits have given up their belief in Satan as an actual, spiritual person.
But I know the truth, and the truth does not come from me. It comes from Him who created me, the universe, and all that’s in it. And the truth includes evil as well as good.
As true, personal evil and true personal good are real, so must be the eternal life of the soul.
Credo in Spiritum Sanctum, sanctam Ecclesiam catholicam, sanctorum communionem, remissionem peccatorum, carnis resurrectionem, vitam aeternam.
I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the remission of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life eternal.
Eternal life is a daunting prospect, and we have a choice of how we spend eternity. Squishiness in this life will not yield a soft eternity. It will yield the rigidity of hell.
And the choice itself is hard, as Christ warned.
How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it! (Matthew 7:14)
By “strait,” Christ isn’t saying “straight.” Think of the Strait of Hormuz. Or, as Wikipedia puts it:
A strait is a naturally formed, narrow, typically navigable waterway that connects two larger bodies of water. Most commonly it is a channel of water that lies between two land masses. Some straits are not navigable, for example because they are too shallow, or because of an unnavigable reef or archipelago.
The waters in a strait are often unpredictable. Rocks and shoals abound. The imprecise, irresolute mariner will find these hazards and perishes. But the rigid navigator, with a firm hand on the tiller and a sharp eye on the compass and charts, passes the dangers and emerges in the calm seas on the other side.
Call me rigid, Holy Father. I practice heavy barbell lifting to make my body rigid. I practice daily prayer and frequent confession and fasting to make my mind and soul rigid.
Not rigid against love or understanding, but rigid against the evil one, the demons, the unclean spirits of our age. Rigid against the heresies and apostasies that seem to amuse the Pope.
Indefinite, evasive, inexact, compromising statements from the Pope will not get us through the Strait of Death. The Pope is leading a billion Catholics into the rocks and shoals, the shallows, the hazards that guard the sea of eternal tranquility. He is compromising with Satan and offering the souls of the faithful in the negotiations. Pope Francis is a squish. He is not arming his flock with the weapons of spiritual warfare. He is leading his flock into the jaws of the lion.
Eric Sammons knows what it’s like to show up at spiritual rumble unarmed:
It was on this night that I realized that evil is real, and it is personal. Evil is not just an abstract concept, but a personal force actively working against our good. As St. Peter wrote, “[y]our adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). I also came to another realization that night: I had no ability to resist that evil.
I write this post, not out of hatred but of love. Love is too will the good of the other. The good is safe navigation of that hazardous strait and passage through the narrow gate. For everyone.
I will pray for Pope Francis today, tomorrow, and every day. I want him to stiffen up, renew the faith, bolster the courage of the faithful, speak the truth, and lead his flock to Christ. But he’s doing the opposite right now, and for that he deserves the rebukes and scorn of every faithful Catholic.
The formula to counter Pope Francis’s squishiness is prayer:
Sacramental confession every two weeks
Daily Mass (or, at least, one Daily Mass a week)
Prayers of the Auxilium Christianorum (and other deliverance prayers)
Avoid all mortal sins, especially sexual sins (including pornography)
Voluntary mortifications (start with cold showers)
Carry or wear sacramentals like the Benedict Medal and Green or Brown scapular
Learn how evil manifests itself by reading C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters and Jesse Romero’s Demons in the City of Angels
Demons are all around you. They are everywhere. They influence human thought and human action. They tell you to seek comfort and pleasure and do what feels good.
It’s a hard lesson to hear that comfort and pleasure and being popular are the enemies of salvation. But they are.
Get to work, pilgrim. The gate is narrow and the path is like the Strait of Hormuz with hazards all around. Anyone who tells you otherwise, even the pope, is lying to you.