Tuesday, May 14, 2013

What's the Plan?

I had a discussion with a group of priests recently, we were talking about ageing clergy, clergy in ill health, tired clergy and ultimately parish closures. We spoke about the need for evangelisation and then realised that most parishes and diocese have no plan to evangelise, only to manage decline. Yes, we will carry on our parish catechetical programmes, doing what we have always done, the problem is that what we have always done doesn't really work. If it is done well it leads to gradual decline, if it is done badly the decline is faster.

Michael Voris in the video below talks about the lack of "supernatural faith", I am always uncomfortable with Michael's analysis, it seems so American, so easy. I don't think we need much of a plan, just a vision of Jesus, perhaps the first thing we do is admit that we really do not have any answers of ourselves, except for Jesus, that we aren't even really sure of the question either.

Pope Benedict's "plan" was "reveal the beauty of the face of Jesus", Pope Francis' "reveal the mercy of Jesus". A Greek bishop friend wanted to found a convent of nuns "to reveal Christ's love in community", many Catholic priests and bishops see the way forward as "Eucharist Adoration" (others will speak of "Eucharistic Exposition" which tends place the emphasis on him rather than on our adoring), then others will suggest Marian devotion as the path to renewal, or Lectio Divina, others will suggest the return to the Mass of Ages. Vorris himself seems to indicate the answer is a return to good old fashion catechesis and "ass kicking".

What is the heart of these ideas, and all of them seem to work (for some people), is that they turn our eyes from our own efforts to what God does, in that sense it is "supernatural faith", rather the natural faith of Baldrick's "a cunning plan".

"Cunning plans" always come to nothing, and so does mere human endeavour, what we need to realise is that  God's answer to all mans ills and the Church's too, is Jesus. When we place our hope in aything else it is a 'house built on sand', it won't endure. The problem is that we need the vision of Jesus to see Jesus solving our difficulties and triumphing over them. Unless we are rooted in in him we lack supernatural faith, hope and charity too.

The Church today, especially bishops and priests need a good dose of the supernatural, our cunning plans over the last half century seem to underplay that. The vision of John XXIII for Vatican II was that it would be a supernatural experience for the bishops taking part and for the whole Church.


Cosmos said...

The interior "plan" is "repent and believe." Both words ultimately mean turning over your will to the Lord. How do you do that? Jesus gave plenty of answers: love God above all things, love your neighbor, turn from sin, emulate the Scriptures, feed the poor, pray for your enemies, eat His body and drink His blood... Simple but very, very hard, and very, very contrary to our desires.

The exterior plan is "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." This part is also simple but hard and very, very embarrassing for politically-correct, well-educated Westerners (thank goodness for those academics and Church leaders who tell us that this would be insensitive proselytizing).

Everything else is just a means to those two ends.

Jacobi said...

I have suggested elsewhere that Voris is a 21st century Belloc. He’s probably more than that. He’s, well, Voris!

He says what all of us, bishops, priests and laity have been so reluctant to grasp and to say. The Western Church is in crisis. The hierarchy over the 50 years have collectively failed to cope with the post-Vatican II assault of liberal/Modernism on the Church from within.
The answer is to preach Catholicism.

Benedict XVI identified the problem in 2005 and Francis shows every sign of vigorously leading us forward in a true Catholic way and he may, hopefully, have a plan. He certainly so far has preached Catholicism.

But the Church will be smaller and we have a long way to go!

Angelo Cardinal Fratelli said...

Save the liturgy

JARay said...

I agree 100% with Michael Voris.
As an outsider looking in I see the Church I grew up in shriveling. The charade of the resignation of Scotland's Cardinal just before the Conclave, because of sexual impropriety is echoed in Ireland's promotion of abortion by End-a-Life Kenny and also its demands that priests must breach the seal of confession, is further evidence of a decaying Church. The response of the bishops is non-existent. There are faithful Catholics valiantly trying their best in the face of careerist bishops and...unfortunately...priests, simply adds to the fear expressed in Scripture, that when Jesus comes again, will he find any Faithful?!

Amfortas said...

Certainly more of a Belloc than a Chesterton. Not a very charitable assessment, I know.

gemoftheocean said...

All I know is that if you don't ask for, you don't get. I wouldn't think it out of line if you put in a regular petition at Mass every week to pray for vocations. When I was young, every year there was a vocations drive at school, where various orders would come and talk about the things they did. AFAIK God does not send telegrams when He calls someone, I expect nets have to be cast over the side quite a few times. As far as "planning" goes I think it would be wise if bishops root out certain elements that may still be lurking in some seminaries to the point that it discourages orthodox heterosexual men - and get rid of Sister Mary Miniskirt too.

Martina Katholik said...

I converted to the Catholic faith six and a half years ago and my analysis as to why the crisis in the Church is that severe has been the same as Michael Voris’. It is just as simple or easy as that.

There is a well-known prelate here in Germany who has been a priest for 60 years and who has been warning people since 1971 (!) about the loss of faith which is not being halted by the bishops. For that reason, he’s being ridiculed.

His plan is the same as Voris’, especially in the regard that the Pope or the remaining orthodox Bishops should rebuke or remove those that for decades have been preaching and teaching heresies from the pulpit and the cathedra.

In Germany, we have some very extreme cases of apostates and heretics such as the priest and professor of ecumenical theology at the University of Tübingen, Fr. Hans Küng, who denies almost every article of the Faith in his books that are being sold in the millions but who hasn’t been excommunicated yet and continues to be a media favorite.

Pope Benedict showed the orthodox priests what is being expected of them: that they have to make every effort to become like St. John Mary Vianney.

It was this Saint that contributed to my conversion by his example because it became clear to me that such a live is only made possible by the True Religion. He exhorted the people to love God and to do penance for the love of God. If they wouldn’t do it for love, he told them about the last four things.

In my opinion, this is something that every priest should ask himself: when was the last time I preached about the last four things?

Since my conversion, I have not heard a sermon about the last four things once, let alone about the consequences of one unrepented mortal sin and all that despite the fact that I attend the Traditional Latin Mass served by a Ecclesia Dei institute.

Now what will it be like in a “normal” parish?

I would like to join St. Alphonsus in asking the priests why they even step out of the door when they preach themselves and not Christ. Like St. Alphonsus said, nobody was forced to the holy orders. But if they become priests, they should act accordingly.

His book “DIGNITY AND DUTIES OF THE PRIEST” can be read online here:

And is also being recommended by Fr. Finigan


I’m not alone with my opinon. My husband and my son who both converted three years ago think the same way.

Genty said...

The fact is, Father, that an army that doesn't have a plan or strategy is certain to be defeated. Frankfurt Marxists had a plan to destabablise existing norms in society. So far so stridently successful.
An offshoot, the LGBT lobby, as you have pointed out, Father, has a clearly defined plan (read the report today about the head of a Catholic primary school who called in Stonewall after one child called another's shoes "gay").
Is catechesis enough? Well, it depends. A once-a-week lesson and then all go home without the children knowing they should live the life is useless.
Homilies Sunday after Sunday are the epitome of what Voris has called the Church of Nice, vis. the priest who told parishioners this week that Christ's greatest commandment was to love one another. I understood it was: "If you love me, you will keep my commandments."
The Ten Commandments are a plan. The Eight Beatitudes are a plan. So are the spiritual and corporal works of mercy, as is the Rosary. The blockage is seeing all these things as separate and outside ourselves, instead of being an integral part of our Christian persona, according to . . . God's plan.

Et Expecto said...

Here are a few things to put in the plan:

1 Set up a UK based Catholic television channel.

2 Do the same for radio,

3 Set up a UK based order of traditional priests,

4 Put a real Catholic in charge of Catholic education.

Any other suggestions?

Rod George said...

The church already has a plan but has yet to implement it. This is the heavenly plan given by Our Lady asking for the pope together with the bishops of the world to consecrate Russia to Her Immaculate Heart.Our Lady also asked for the devotion of the first five saturdays.How many parishes practice this devotion?
The post VII opened itself to the world and in order to put things right it now has to re-open itself to heaven.

On the side of the angels said...

Was as the Voris talk at the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Conference last Saturday - and yes the emphasis was pray for Bishops, do what we can to assist them BUT there is a real problem with the 'Word on Fire' new evangelisation - type process of 'making Christianity acceptable' - he spoke of St Paul's humiliation at Athens where he tried to show off his Classical wisdom and appeal to the altar to the unknown God - and how he realised his error at Corinth and came humbly to preach Christ - and Him crucified...

One other thing rang true of which I don't think he was actually aware - although he spoke of Nietzsche and Nihilism and the abandonment/dismantling resignation of being consigned to nothingness - and how the Church had become contaminated with this poison - perhaps what he didn't know was that I was brought up in an ethos [school, uni and seminary] where the prevailing meme was 'the Church's mission is to become obsolete and unnecesary' and therefore the toxic 'evolutionary' theory that people become spiritual entities without organised religion - becoming temples in themselves [yes I know - really temples to themselves] and that a lot of this crisis 'dismantling' management still held to this overriding theme of 'they're better off without us'...I know it might sound absurd but I stood on my own before my Bishop surrounded by a few dozen ageing hostile deanery members declaring we are in big trouble and my Bishop's responses were 'why are you so negative?' - ' I think you came here with an alternate agenda' and finally with a circling sweep of his hands 'all these other people disagree with you...so what have you to say to them?'
My response of 'they're wrong!' didn't go down well and my Bishop shut me up...but it's very tough for an elderly cleric to stop and think that all their ideas and initiatives and programmes and projects for renewal were disastrous...they really are in a state of denial..they cannot believe they could have made such mistakes or that they aren't all part of God's plan for the Church - that this collapse is all destined and inevitable and they have to continue oblivious...
It's scary!

Catholic Coffee said...

The plan is to move to a country where daily Mass is available to the working class, too, and not only the rich and retired. As for the plan for the Church in England: as long as Mass and confession are not available every day for everyone, nothing that is done will change anything.

Physiocrat said...

A local priest put his finger on one of the issues last Sunday. The Second Vatican Council addressed the modern world just as it was moving into the era of Post Modernism. Post Modernism grew out of, amongst other things, the understanding of signs and symbols, through the work of people such as Levi Strauss and Sperber. The first fruits of this were to be seen in fashion and music, in the Punk movement, which was about the recycling and re-use of signs.

The irony is that the Catholic church, through its liturgical reforms, deprived itself of much of the language needed to talk to this Post Modern world, just as it was coming into existence.

In the light of this, it is no accident that in UK and here in Sweden, the only growth point in the Catholic church is around the old liturgy, where young people are being converted from atheism. The lesson needs to be learned and acted on.

Amfortas said...

Catholic Coffee has a point. How many parishes have their daily mass at 1000? Very many if the directories are right. Impossible for working people.

Long-Skirts said...


"The martyrs were bound, imprisoned, scourged, racked, burnt, rent, butchered —and they multiplied." St. Augustine












Highland Cathedral said...

A few of the suggestions put forward by Michael Voris at his talk in Carfin:
• We all need to become more holy: clergy and laity.
• Our only goal is to become saints – and to help other people to become saints.
• He said that we needed a prayer life.
• Get to know the faith better. He urged people to read more about the faith and to become more informed so that they could talk to other people about it. In particular he recommended people to learn the reasons why contraception and ‘same-sex marriage’ are evil. He said that the days when we could say that putting across the faith was ‘Father’s job’ are long over. One reason was that we have fewer priests. Another one was that priests did not always know the faith as well as they might. And another was that some priests might actually mislead people.
• Read the Scriptures. Become more conversant with Scripture. He asked the audience how many knew that there was a partial indulgence for reading the Bible for fifteen minutes. A lot of people did not know.
• Always tell people the truth. Do not shy away from telling people the truth because they might be offended or have no more to do with you. He pointed out that cowards are top of the list of the damned in the Book of Revelation. He said that too often we care more for our own pride rather than for the state of other people’s souls. He was highly doubtful that invincible ignorance was very common. In other words, he said that we cannot evade telling people the truth by thinking that they will go to Heaven because they don’t know that what they are doing is wrong.
In response to one question he asked the audience to put up their hand if they knew that saying the Mass in the vernacular never appeared in any Vatican 2 document. A large number of people did not raise their hand.

Catholic Coffee said...

Amfortas, this year the feast of the Annunciation, (a solemnity) was moved to the 8th of April, a Monday. In a cathedral city (a Catholic cathedral city) it was impossible to go to Mass if you had a daytime job. Currently in a good week I get to Mass maybe 3-4 times. At a different church every time and only because I have the financial means to drive sometimes as far as 20 miles for a weekday evening Mass. How are we supposed to become saints here without daily communion? :-( And confession is often so difficult, too. (This said, I had a wonderful coffee confession today.)

Physiocrat said...

Catholic Coffee - if your intentions are right then you can become a saint without daily communion. Daily Mass is not an obligation and driving 40 miles to get to one sounds like an extravagance to me, when you could read the text of the Mass, say the offices for the day and make a spiritual communion in your own home. Think of your carbon footprint!

Catholic Coffee said...

Physiocrat - you are right. Meeting someone you love in an intimate encounter is not an obligation.

No journey is an extravagance for one holy communion.