Fr. Valentine Long, O.F.M.:
By JAMES LIKOUDIS
A Belated Tribute To a Saintly Franciscan
Fr. Valentine Long, O.F.M., who reposed in the Lord some years ago, was a good friend of Catholics United for the Faith, and a frequent contributor to the pages of The Wanderer. At a time when there have been renewed attacks on the Papacy, it is timely to refer readers to one of Fr. Long's best works in Apologetics, namely, his 255 page work "Upon This Rock" which was published by Franciscan Herald Press in 1982. The book's twenty essays in Catholic apologetics had originally appeared in various Catholic publications and richly deserved to be republished in this volume, which retains its value for confused and poorly catechized Catholics. Though written by a Franciscan, "Upon This Rock" reveals Fr. Long's great love for St. Thomas Aquinas and constitutes a Thomistic antidote to the post-conciliar smog, which continues to circulate from today's dissenters.
As Fr. Long wrote:
"This book holds a proportionate variety of essays written in reply and out of love for the Faith, which gives the collection a unity of purpose. The new recurrent denials of God's transcendence over creation, of the supernatural, of the angels good and bad, of original sin and what it did to mankind and to the world, will all receive due treatment. So, too, will the following corollaries be considered: the growing threat of a humanism which takes from the Creator his priority, and the return of an iconoclastic spirit which from a lack of reverence (if not disbelief) would deprive the Blessed Sacrament of suitably beautiful churches, and the delusion that dogmas change from age to age, and, as a cause for the errors, the rejection of papal infallibility, which goes to the heart of the matter. Indeed, the unblemished record of the Holy See in preserving the Faith against the assaults of hell remains from start to finish the dominant motive of this book, inspiring gratitude, and suggesting the title "Upon This Rock"."
It was with great clarity and philosophic acumen that Fr. Long wrote, demonstrating that the major contemporary denials of historic Christian dogmas stem from false and destructive philosophic premises. "To one who has studied the inanities of modern philosophy in the light of divine revelation, the present generation may be suffering quite as much from a mental breakdown as from a moral breakdown." He aptly showed that the application of the philosophies of Kant and Hegel to Catholic doctrine simply resulted in Modernism, and that a deceitful atheism underlies the emergence of the even more serious neo-Modernism afflicting Catholics in the post-conciliar period. Modern dissenters from traditional Catholicism are labelled the "oddity" they are for attempting to "remake the Creed after their own designs while claiming to belong...to the divinely founded institution they would demolish." Fr. Long reminded media pundits that "The Creed being the center of dispute, its innovators and not its adherents must be called the willful party of reactionaries."
Fr. Long was unsparing in his criticism of process philosophy and process theology (the latter with its "modern nonsense about an on-going revelation"). Both had undermined the rational foundations for Christian belief and subverted the faith of many Catholics in Divine Revelation and a supernatural order. "Dogma after dogma in the credenda have suffered from the attack of priests who are proud to be called process theologians." The latter were to give American Catholics their "New Theology" and "New Catechetics". To the Franciscan author's mind, the consequence was quite predictable. Religion teachers in Catholic schools and parish programs added to the crisis of truth and authority in the Church by withholding from their pupils "the great, fixed, eternal truths" of historical Christianity.
In popular language Fr. Long proceeded to defend brilliantly those same truths, drawing upon the riches of the Catholic Tradition as exemplified in Scripture, the Fathers, the Councils, and the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas and John Henry Cardinal Newman. He also brought to bear major encyclicals of the Popes (ever vigilant to safeguard the Church and its apostolic Creed from the dissenters of every age). His exorcism of Evolution as "A Fairy Tale for Adults"(Chapter 12) and wise remarks on Science and Faith in "How Wrong was the Galileo Verdict?" (Chapter 17) were masterpieces of common sense. He noted how "Pope Paul VI lived out his difficult reign a martyr to the Faith...Short of using the anathema within his power, he still repudiated the errors of Modernism." Moreover, Pope John Paul II had "no intention of submitting to the dissenters."
A major part of Fr. Long's book is devoted to defending the Primacy of Peter in the Church and "the infallible authority which Christ invested in Peter to be passed on to his successors in the Roman See." The data of Scripture, the Fathers, the Councils, and commonplaces of Church history are marshalled to reveal the Papacy as the indefectible bulwark against the deviations of heresy and schism. "Heresy begets heresy, and without deference to the Holy See there is no end to the bizarre process." Papal supremacy pertains not merely to the 'bene esse' of the Church, but to its essence as a dogmatic teaching body commissioned to "teach all nations".
Fr. Long was especially concerned with heterodox teaching on the Eucharist and with the baneful influence of a popular post-conciliar catechism. He must have rejoiced after the publication of his book when informed of the official statement issued by Bishop Leo T. Maher, then Bishop of San Diego.
"It is forbidden to use the book entitled 'Bible Catechism' by Rev. John C. Kersten, SVD. Its full title is : 'New Revised - Vatican II edition, A Meaning for Man's Existence'. This book is heretical in reference to the Eucharist and should not be used at any time." (The Southern Cross, December 31, 1981)
Fr. Long was convinced that if more U.S. bishops had acted in similar fashion to remove other neo-Modernist theological and catechetical materials from circulation, they would have been spared the present "dissension within the Catholic Church which has become a scandal to the ecumenical movement."
Fr. Long was encouraged by Cardinal John Wright to enter the lists in defense of orthodoxy. He did so splendidly in "Upon This Rock" which touchingly revealed this Franciscan's great love for the Church built upon Peter. Readers still able to obtain a copy from some bookstore will find it inspiring as well as a solid exposition of the mind of orthodox Catholicism.
This article appeared in " The WANDERER " a Catholic newspaper, issue of January 11, 2001.