by Fr Richard Heilman | November 26, 2018 6:45 pm
Venerable Fulton Sheen wrote:
“It is a characteristic of any decaying civilization that the great masses of the people are unconscious of the tragedy. Humanity in a crisis is generally insensitive to the gravity of the times in which it lives. Men do not want to believe their own times are wicked, partly because it involves too much self-accusation and principally because they have no standards outside of themselves by which to measure their times.”
Bishop Robert C. Morlino was hypervigilant as a shepherd. He saw the wolves encroaching and he was quick to warn his flock. Today, the war being fought is, by and large, through communication. Jeffrey Kuhner of the Washington Times had it right when he said, “For the past 50 years, every major institution has been captured by the radical secular left. The media, Hollywood, TV, universities, public schools, theater, the arts, literature — they relentlessly promote the false gods of sexual hedonism and radical individualism.”
The radical secular cultural elite have done everything they can to own the narrative; to indoctrinate the masses. In their condescension, these cultural elite look down on us as the “useful idiots” who are easily manipulated, as long as we remain engrossed in our televisions, internet, or any other of our many worldly distractions. All the cultural elite need do, they believe, is flash headlines that we catch as we get on with our worldly stuff. This is too easy, these elite seemed to think, until they tangled with a Bishop Morlino.
More than most, Bishop was fully aware of this attempt to indoctrinate his flock, and his mission could be summed up by him saying, “No! Not under my watch!” Bishop Morlino did more than encourage speaking truth to power, he modeled it. His Sunday homilies were, classically, a refutation of what was on the news that previous week. He was not going to let them get away with manipulating his flock. He was shockingly to the point. But, while clear and unambiguous in his teachings, he remained charitable in his approach. He spoke these words whenever he could, “Truth with love.”
“We must cast out sin from our own lives and run toward holiness. We must refuse to be silent in the face of sin and evil in our families and communities and we must demand from our pastors — myself included — that they themselves are striving day in and day out for holiness. We must do this always with loving respect for individuals, but with a clear understanding that true love can never exist without truth.” -Bishop Robert Morlino
Of course, this was, sadly, unique among most bishops and priests. Some of us actually succumbed to the indoctrination, while most of us remained timid and frightened of the backlash that would come from speaking up against the false narrative of the cultural elite.
And, yes, the wolves pounced on Bishop Morlino whenever they felt they had an opening. Bishop put himself in harm’s way to protect his flock from the indoctrination, never considering the cost to himself. This made him a formidable opponent to the cultural elite.
Venerable Fulton Sheen wrote:
“The wicked fear the good, because the good are a constant reproach to their consciences. The ungodly like religion in the same way that they like lions, either dead or behind bars; they fear religion when it breaks loose and begins to challenge their consciences.”
“They fear religion when it breaks loose.” Yes! This was the other half of this good bishop’s objectives. While Bishop Morlino remained strong and undaunted against this indoctrination, he worked very hard to draw this strength out in his flock; to have religion break loose in the Diocese of Madison.
Bishop knew that a strong force of believers would not come from a soft Catholicism. Moreover, Bishop understood that a strong Catholicism cannot emerge from a weak liturgy. Bishop was an avid disciple of Pope Benedict XVI, and he agreed with the holy pope who wrote about what laid at the very heart of the crisis in our Church: “I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is, to a large extent, due to the disintegration of the liturgy.”
Bishop lived through this period of the disintegration of the liturgy, which has, in fact, led to a devastating disintegration of faith. Accordingly, Bishop put his heart and soul into doing everything he could to restore the potency and primacy the Catholic liturgy once had. What was missing? Awe and Wonder. Bishop believed that this, and only this, will make for “Strong Catholics.”
While Bishop encouraged the wide use of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (he had his seminarians learn it), he did not insist upon it. I don’t really know if he hoped that, one day, the Catholic Church would revert to the Extraordinary Form, exclusively, but I do know he desired to see the Extraordinary Form enrich the offering of the Ordinary Form of the Mass.
When it came to the Ordinary Form, Bishop was a strong proponent of ad orientem worship, the tabernacle centered in the sanctuary, Communion on the tongue while kneeling (he asked all First Communicants to receive this way), some Latin, and the use of sacred music versus most modern hymns. More to it, Bishop’s worst nightmare was to see any forms of elitism from the pews of either forms of the Mass. Bishop’s overall mission was to make Catholicism attractive and meaningful for all those who were searching for the deeper truths of life. Bishop Morlino was hungry for souls, and he was clear on how to fill the net.
“Truth with Love” and “Awe and Wonder in Worship” were the two great ways Bishop Robert Morlino believed would reel in a multitude of fervent souls. And they did.
Lord, grant us the bravery to carry on his mission and ever strive for these most worthy goals!
℣. Requiem æternam dona ei, Domine
℟. Et lux perpetua luceat ei:
℣. Requiescat in pace.
For his episcopal motto, Bishop Morlino selected the phrase “Visus Non Mentietur” taken from the Old Testament Book of Habakkuk (2:3). The Latin phrase translated means “The Vision Will Not Disappoint.”
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