On 20 October, His Excellency Bishop Athanasius Schneider once again blessed with his visit the Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem and their Priory of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Charles Town, West Virginia. He celebrated a Low Mass which was accompanied by beautiful chants sung by a choir. Moreover, there were large families in attendance and Bishop Schneider also gave First Holy Communion to a little boy. After his Holy Mass, His Excellency spontaneously held a little oral presentation without prepared manuscript.
This little address was intimate and very well received by the faithful, some of whom then had many pressing questions to which the holy bishop later responded in personal conversations outside of the Church. It is always very moving to see Bishop Schneider’s humility and his immense kindness – especially toward the little ones – and his deep Faith and love for the sinner. His trust in the helping hand of the Mother of God is always present, and he also insists upon a charitable and respectful way of speaking with those within the Catholic Church with whom we might whole-heartedly and properly disagree.
Moreover, in a personal conversation with my husband and me after his Holy Mass, Bishop Schneider also encouraged Catholics to sign the recently published Declaration of Fidelity to the Church’s Unchangeable Teaching on Marriage and to Her Uninterrupted Discipline. For this reason, we give here the link to the appeal that has not only been signed by Bishop Schneider himself, but also by Cardinal Carlo Caffarra and Cardinal Raymond Burke, among now already six thousand signatories. Since the publication of this declaration – which rejects any alteration of the Catholic Church’s traditional moral teaching on marriage and the Family, as presented by the post-synodal exhortation Amoris Laetitia – many priests and theologians have signed it. It is to be hoped that this declaration becomes – just as the previous Filial Appeal which was signed by more than a million Catholics – an earnest and persevering sign of the fidelity of many Catholics throughout the world.
In addition to this document, Bishop Schneider also has other recommendations for us faithful who have to face the current crisis and confusion within the Catholic Church. In his own little talk after Mass on 20 October, he recommended that we keep our Faith and trust, knowing that the Church is in God’s hands and that He is stronger than any pope or bishop. According to Schneider, therefore, Our Lord will use once more the little ones in the Church as a channel of grace and renewal. This magnanimous and charitable prelate reminds us to keep charity for our opponents and to keep this sense of communion among the members of the Mystical Body of Christ where one member sometimes can especially help the weaker member.
Please read the full text of his speech as it was recorded and then transcribed by me, and with the approval of His Excellency of Bishop Athanasius Schneider himself that I may make a public use of this recording. I have tried my best to remain faithful to his recorded words ex corde pleno, but a few words were unfortunately inaudible to me.
Bishop Athanasius Schneider
Charles Town, West Virginia, 20 October 2016
My dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am so glad to see that here are present also children, a lot of children, young people, families, and this is really a sign of the true renewal of the Church. This can give us really trust and hope in the midst of so much confusion which we are witnessing outside and inside the Church. And so we keep Faith and trust, supernatural Faith that the Church is in the hands of God. The Church is not in our hands. The Church is not in the hands of the pope or of the bishops. The Church is in the hands of God. He is the Master. He is the head of the Church. Let us renew these Faiths, because the Church is essentially a supernatural reality, even though the Church is also human and visible.
Maybe in this time of crisis, we are too much concentrated on the human part of the Church, where we observe the weakness, the betrayal; but the invisible, the mystical, the supernatural reality, part of the Church is greater, is stronger. And no human frailness and betrayal can destroy the Church, even from the highest members of the hierarchy. And so it was always in the 2000 years of the Church. And so when we pray often “I believe in One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church,” we have to renew our Faith in this, that the Church is a work of God. And of course, in the times of trial and crisis, the Holy Spirit is using, usually, the little ones in the Church, those who are not in power – I mean in administrative power. And so it was always. God always chooses the little ones, those of Our Lady, the servants of God, the little ones.
Our Lord became a little one as a child; Our Lord has chosen as simple Apostles the fishermen; and so Our Lord says, He praises the Father to have chosen the little ones to reveal to them the mysteries of the Kingdom. And this is a truth of the supernatural reality of the Church because we are the Mystical Body of Christ. Let us keep this strong – the Mystical Body of Christ. Where we are all connected one to another, in a living manner, in a real supernatural manner, but really. In this connection, one member of the Church is helping the other. We are really like in a living body, connected, and so in the Church also; and so when sometimes one part of the Body of Christ is weak, maybe in our phase they are those in power, those in the hierarchy; then the Holy Spirit is using the little ones in His body to strengthen those who are visibly in power. And so I believe the Holy Spirit is doing the same in our time. And so you, my brothers and sisters, the little ones, the little innocent children with their prayers, with their sacrifices, they renew the Church. These graces, where the Holy Mass is celebrated reverently, with Faith, with dignity, with reverence, in these places where Our Lord is really adored as God during Holy Communion – inwardly and outwardly also – in these places there is happening a real renewal of the Church. And this is the power of the Holy Spirit. And even those with authority in the Church cannot stop this. Even the pope cannot stop this, because this is the work of the Holy Spirit. And the pope is weaker than the Holy Spirit, he is only the weak minister of Christ.
And so let us renew, really, our deep supernatural Faith, and pray and sacrifice for the pope and the bishops that they may receive new strength, new gifts of the Holy Spirit, especially the gift of the courage, fortitude, to witness our Faith, to defend the Faith, and to lead their lives for Christ. Please pray for them, and that God will send more and more [word inaudible] shepherds of the Church on all levels who are really – who will have the courage of the Apostles, and who will give their lives for this truth and for the souls.
And so, my dear brothers and sisters, let us remember in this time and every time of crisis and trial, that this is a time of special graces. And ask Our Lord to strengthen your Faith, the supernatural Faith, and to be proud of the Catholic Faith.
You know your Faith. You have the Catechism. You have the Baltimore Catechism, the traditional Catechism, you know this is the Faith, you have Our Lord here in the Holy Mass in Holy Communion; you have the Saints, the hope. And so be grateful to God and be proud of the Catholic Faith.
And do not allow yourselves to be confused by anyone. And say always: “I know in Whom I believe.” As St. Paul said: “I know.” And for this my Catholic Faith I am ready to suffer when it is not so [words inaudible]… and this is our richness, my dear brothers and sisters. The Catholic Faith, Our Lord in the Eucharist, and when we have Our Lord in the Eucharist, and then we have all things and that is the mystery for us, and we are the richest people in the world.
Praised be Our Lord Jesus Christ, now and forever, Amen.