A Formless Darkness

A Formless Darkness

A meditation on a particular conclusion from Romano Amerio’s Epilogue in Iota Unum:

“If the present crisis is tending to overthrow the nature of the Church, and if this tendency is internal to the Church rather than the result of an external assault, as it has been on other occasions, then we are headed for a formless darkness…in the face of which there will be no alternative but to keep silence.” (p. 713)

A mysterious conclusion, this!

Amerio does not say that in the face of this formless darkness we must shout from the rooftops (as the Gospel enjoins), but the opposite: We shall be obliged to hold our peace.

Why?

Perhaps he is saying that, because our protests shall fall upon deaf ears, there is no point in protesting; that since the cause of dissolution is internal to the Church, there is nobody capable or remedying the situation who can act upon our pleas?

But what of the obligation to preach the truth for those who have not yet succumbed to the formless darkness?

Does the lack of a receptive audience dispense from the obligation (in caritate, at least) to fight against the spread of the formless darkness?

Did not St. Anthony preach to the fishes when no man would listen to him?

But Amerio says there will be no alternative in the face of this formless darkness except silence.

Does this mean that the preaching of the truths of the Church will become impossible?  Not for want of an audience, but for inability to reproduce (intellectually) the truth?  That would seem to contradict indefectibility, however indirectly, in suggesting that the faith will have vanished, so this cannot be his meaning.

How could things come to such a pass that we are helpless but to watch the spread of this formless darkness destroy the Church (insofar as it can be destroyed in its human element)?

Is it meant to show us our own powerlessness, and/or make us aware of our total dependence on God’s providence; to make us conscious on our dependence on Him?

It seems a very severe test of faith to be tested by God in this way: To watch the Church undue itself, in seeming contradiction of its divine constitution; how many will be damned by losing faith, and failing the test?  If it is a test.

If this prognosis is true, what should be our response?  Shall we refocus our efforts from the restoration of the Church, to simply praying not to lose the faith?  Would taking that posture be consistent with the graces and obligations we received at our confirmation, to be soldiers of Christ?  Is a soldier always swinging his sword, or does he sometimes maneuver, reconnaissance the terrain and enemy, and pick his battles?

It seems impossible and treasonous to consent to do nothing.  To be found fighting is what matters most, isn’t it?  Shall we give up on the Church, and worry about our own foxholes?  Will God be pleased or upset, if in the face of a formless darkness undoing the constitution of the Church, we hold our silence?

A difficult thing, not to have the courage to uphold one’s spiritual obligations, but a far worse suffering to be perplexed as to what God’s expectations are.  Perhaps the perplexity is an inducement to prayer for a solution?  Perhaps that prayer will win merit from the suffering?  Perhaps that is the cause of the perplexity?

It does not sit easy with men to remove oneself from the battlefield (especially to do so before confronted with the darkness).

Perhaps the silence in the face of the formless darkness will be the result of exasperation and exhaustion?

I cannot see keeping one’s silence unless checkmated or dead.

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