Wednesday, February 04, 2015

A Christian problem, not a Muslim one


The internet seems to filled with the dreadful picture of that Jordanian pilot being burnt to death, a few days ago there was a picture of a homosexual being thrown from a tower block, beheadings have become so common, they are almost not news. Add to that pictures of crucified men, women and even children, women and children sold into slavery, child brides, mutilated or burned bodies, churches razed to the ground, Christians and others robbed and sent into exile and most world, and even religious, leaders will say, "this isn't a Moslem problem". Even closer to home, the Rotherham child abuse revelations, again, 'it isn't a Muslim problem'.

Of course they are right, just the same as abortion, or the sexualisation of young children in our society 'isn't a Muslim problem', neither is pornography, or family break up, or the huge disparity between the wealthy and the poor in our society, these are obviously not 'a Muslim problem', neither are Russian gulags or the Nazi extermination camps.

These are however problems for a world that does not know Jesus Christ, in that sense they are a Christian problem. These horrors show us a world unredeemed, a world dwelling in Christ-less darkness. These are the things those who do not know Christ do.

As a priest ordained sometime after the close of the Second Vatican Council, it is the missionary impulse of the Council that is fascinating, the whole sense of going out ad gentes rather than looking inwards and being concerned with a concern for soft furnishings and furniture.
The Church is neither a museum preserving the past, nor a laboratory inventing new things. The biblical images of deeply rooted vines, closely tended, producing abundant fruit or of a house set firmly on rock.

It is perhaps natural for the priests who studied whilst the Council was taking place, especially in Rome, to be obsessed the changes the Council introduced ad intra; one only has to read the dreary pages of the Catholic Times or possibly even other Catholic papers to be re-acquainted with the self referential nonsense that haunted the church forty years ago; all those obsessions about reinventing liturgy, about parish management, setting up new committees and the like, that replaced the simple Gospel imperative of bringing Christ to the world.

The years following the Council were very much about household management, patching and restructuring and structures, but by the 1990s there was a new breed of priests who began seeing the Church in far more dynamic terms. They started asking what the purpose of the Church was. In fact asking whether the Church really had anything to bring to world. They did it from a Church that was beginning to coalesce, no longer in a state of flux, no longer filled with uncertainties, a Church that was beginning to feel a certain confidence in its own message: Jesus Christ.

As fascinating as the news from Rome is at the moment is for some, the setting up of new management committees, getting the finances up to date, even debates about remarriage and divorce, gives a sense of déjà vu, a return to times past, where the Church talks about itself, rather Christ. As one young man who a couple of years ago was seriously considering the priesthood, put it recently, 'It is all become deadly dull, there is a lack of confidence even in those doctrines which we had considered long settled, Management-speak has replace Christ-speak, we are called to go out to the peripheries but we don't have anything to take, and no certainty of the place to which we are to return'.

I confess I feel anesthetised by the whole liberal obsession with 'structure and restructuring', it was a mantra for hippies and the children of the war-time generation, but today such introspection seems facile, it certainly will not engage the young.

22 comments:

David O'Neill said...

I must say Father that the actions of the ISIS fanatics, whilst not a true Muslim problem as they are not true Muslims, should be laid at the Muslim door as unless & until the religious leaders of Islam totally reject it the fanatics will not cease. I don't know whether Islam has anything approaching our excommunication but, if not, they need it.
Surely the leaders of Islam must tell these fanatics that killings such as they are committing at present can only lead to Hell not Paradise

philipjohnson said...

I agree with you Father!The hippy revolution is back with papa bergoglio!The difference is ,then,they were young ,now very old.Let us Traditional Catholics hold out for the end of the debacle!God Bless .Philip Johnson.

Jacobi said...

Burnings, be-headings, crucifixions and so on, are not a problem for Muslims. They are standard orthodox Muslim practise authorised and open to them as options, although others options are available of course. It's up to them.

The Catholic problem since Vat II is that we have lost Faith, have lost the will to go and “teach all nations”. It is not that the Secular world is winning the battle, but Catholicism is steadily losing it. Bureaucracy is but a symptom of this.

The 1990s new breed of priests offered hope, but their voice has been drowned in the recent counter-attack of the the Relativisers, the “Spirit” lot.

The second session of the Council on the Family will decide. Either this whole mess will be sorted out by a clear reaffirmation of established Catholic doctrine, or the Church will collapse further, more than we have as yet anticipated .

Jacobi said...

Father,

Burnings, be-headings, crucifixions and so on, are not a problem for Muslims. They are standard orthodox Muslim practise authorised and open to them as options, although others options are available of course. It's up to them.

The Catholic problem since Vat II is that we have lost Faith, have lost the will to go and “teach all nations”. It is not that the Secular world is winning the battle, but Catholicism is steadily losing it. Bureaucracy is but a symptom of this.

The 1990s new breed of priests offered hope, but their voice has been drowned in the recent counter-attack of the the Relativisers the “Spirit” lot.

The second session of the Council on the Family will decide. Either this whole mess will be sorted out by a clear reaffirmation of established Catholic doctrine, or the Church will collapse further, more than we have as yet anticipated .

Sadie Vacantist said...

I attended a vocations retreat ten years ago and I was struck by the sheer misery of the experience. Moreover the food was disgusting which gave me an insight into the parable of the loaves and fishes: the Lord simply took pity on his people and fed them properly. If our group had possessed any initiative, we could have organised a whip round and sent out for pizzas. For that reason I am not sanguine about the quality of my fellow retreatants.

Mark said...

I agree most of global societies ills stem from a loss of Christianity & a moral compass. Nihilism and the pervasive belief in nothing in particular dominates and allows competing idealogies including Islam and New Ageism to fill the vacuum. I wish I could see signs of hope in man seeding deference back to the divine.

Fr. Frank said...

If the Presbyterians in Lincoln, York, and Manchester were (God forbid it!)capturing Pakistani girls and boys and making trade off their flesh, do you seriously believe the BBC would identify such fiends as "Northernish Britains?" Certainly not. They'd rightly be identified as Presbyterians, in order that sensible citizens might better keep both individuals and their conventicles under proper scrutiny for the sake of their own children. Political correctness be damned.

Sadie Vacantist said...

The ME is turning into a sideshow when compared to Greece. If Greece goes under who will be next?

Physiocrat said...

In my experience the basis of effective mission is to get things right at the parish level. Also in my experience there are (unfortunately rare) points of growth characterised by all of the four.

(1) Good quality liturgy, which does not necessarily mean the EF or even Latin, though these can help.

(2) Some kind of local good works, according to need.

(3) Effective courses in catechesis and faith development.

(4) Good social activities for community development - coffee after Sunday Mass is a minimum requirement.

Nicolas Bellord said...

As Jacobi says the problem is with main-stream Islam. As I understand it they believe that the Koran is the word of God and to be taken literally rather like Protestants and 'sola scriptura'. There are passages in the Koran which justify the behaviour of ISIS and others. Until Islam reforms itself and cuts out those passages then this mayhem will carry on. We need to persuade Muslims of this and perhaps they will then see that Christianity is the answer.

Nicolas Bellord said...

@SV: "if Greece goes under ..."

If you mean if Greece declares bankruptcy and leaves the Euro then this might be the best option. Austerity would be worse for two or three years but they would then recover. Staying in the Euro may mean slightly less austerity but it could go on for ever with no recovery.

gemoftheocean said...

Beware the parish with a "Mission Statement."

Sadie, I expect your fellow retreat goers were reluctant to bitch about the food for fear it was some sort of trap/test. i.e. "If I am seen bitching and complaining about the privations of edible food, will 'they' see me as unfit to put up with being set out to the boonies?"

Thomas said...

Sunni Islam doesn't have any central authority since the end of the Ottoman empire, which was the last Caliphate generally recognised by Sunnis. So they have no mechanism for issuing edicts of "excommunication", although individual scholars and imams have condemned them. ISIS claims to be a new Caliphate, of course, and they also claim to be implementing Shariah law in full, so many Muslims are rather conflicted about what to think about it all. Shia muslims do have their Ayatolla, but they are regarded as heretics by the Sunnis and hated by both Al Qaeda and ISIS. Most of the Pakistani muslims in the UK and Europe come from schools of teaching with Sufi influence, which is equally despised by the extremists. Saudi Arabian sponsored propaganda is doing a good job of convincing many muslims that their "wahabbist" version is the true Islam. So it's a very complex and fluid and dangerous situation.

But I think Father Blake is right that Islam in all its forms can only flourish in the West because we have failed to produce an adequate Christian catechesis and apologetics for the modern world and our post Christian secular culture has become utterly decadent. A good case can be made that Islam began as a kind of heresy that took root due to the weakness and divisions among Byzantine Christians in the seventh century. It often spread through violence it is true, as it still does among these militant groups, but it also wins converts because of widespread ignorance about the real truth and full Catholic understanding of Jesus Christ and his Church. Please God the real New Evangelization will begin before too long. Father is right, we need to turn outwards and become authentically evangelical again - "go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News."

Independent said...

Read the Koran

Nicolas Bellord said...

To-day's Gospel is particularly apt. When Jesus approached the disciples some hesitated instead of falling down to adore him. He then tells them to go and teach all nations. Perhaps we have all been hesitating too much and we need to be reminded of our missionary duty. [I was going to say 'proselytize' but perhaps better not!]

John Fisher said...

"Good quality liturgy, which does not necessarily mean the EF or even Latin, though these can help." Here we go so the Novus Ordo Let's dress it up, let's dress it down, let's improvise. It is the Mass we had to have! No..if it were rejected and had been rejected by no being using it that would be the end of it. The whole New Mass is part of the problem. It is a product and symptom of the ailment. The liturgical idiots couldn't have just translated the historic Mass it into the vernacular... no they had to restructure recompose it. It is an absurdity!
Rorate caeli has an interesting article The Church of Vatican II: The Netherlands Without Christ
- a major article for Il Foglio

We are the problem and the Church IS the problem. We have self secularised. We have don't it to ourselves and it is time to recover from the shock and do something. Why do we tolerate. Why do we allow ourselves to be cornered by secularist government that tells us to tolerate evil. That imports and causes divison. In the UK Christianity has been perverted and corrupted by the government department called the C of E. Alien peoples are being imported to destroy culture; ethnic stability, religion and so the government sets an agenda over the created minorities.
The secularist government that caused this chaos will turn of Islam and with it religion that is not turned into a weak twistable government shaped sentiment. That is the legacy of Henry VIII and the Civil War. The government sets the religious tone!

Physiocrat said...

John Fisher - the Novus Ordo can be celebrated in a perfectly dignified way eg as is done every Sunday at the London Oratory. It can even be celebrated in a perfectly dignified way in the vernacular.

In my experience here in Sweden it normally is - with competently set authentic Gregorian chant settings.

Because of the diverse nature of the congregations here, it would be advantageous if parish priests got their congregations used to the EF form and celebrated it as the main Sunday parish Mass. But to suggest that the NO Mass is inherently unworthy is mistaken.

John Fisher said...

ISIS are very "good" Moslems as they are doing everything Mohamed did while alive. What greater fidelity can the follower do than copy the example of their master who is the supreme example of human life and conduct.

John Fisher said...

"The Novus Ordo can be celebrated in a perfectly dignified way eg as is done every Sunday at the London Oratory. It can even be celebrated in a perfectly dignified way in the vernacular." You have sidestepped the issue. The issue is the creation of 3 new Eucharistic prayers . Eucharistic Prayer 2 written in a trattoria the night before being submitted. Luther rewrote the Creed and Luther rewrote the Mass. The Reformation hit your country later than Germany. Luther advocated keeping externals but changing the material of worship so Catholics in your country would not notice or go along with the changes.
Louis Bouyer called Bugnini who composed the new Mass "criminal and unctuous”, a man “as devoid of learning as he was of honesty” and "contemptible".

Nicolas Bellord said...

Thomas is right about the complexity of the Islamic situation. My knowledge of Islam comes from reading Jacque Jornier O.P. "How to Undestand ISLAM". However it was written 27 years ago when things were quieter and bends over backward to point out the good things in Islam but it still paints a very worrying picture. Jornier claims that only 5% are Shia and that Sufism is only a small part of that 5%. What the present makeup of the Muslim community is in England I do not know. All I do know is Crawley where I am told that there is a divide between Muslims from Uganda who were mainly middle class and more recent immigrants from Bangladesh who were more susceptible to violent propaganda being less educated.
It seems to me that the Muslim community here needs to get together and decide upon a peaceful version of Islam and make sure all their communities accept it. Christians should be able to demonstrate how this can be done and perhaps the example will have them turning to Christianity.

Supertradmum said...

Father, my favorite quotation of the week is from St. Francis Xavier who wrote that all of China could have been converted if there had been enough missionaries from Europe. The problem of the lack of missionaries is not new, sadly.

And, the governments of Europe are trying to keep out and are keeping out, as you know, seminarians and priests from non-EU countries. Even some Catholic teachers moving from one EU country to another to teach in private Catholic schools have been stopped at borders, and that is in the EU.

The laity have fallen into sloth with regard to missionary work, not encouraging vocations in their own families and not stepping out to spread the Gospel, which as baptized Catholics, we are commanded to do by Christ Himself.


It is time to stop talking about Vat II or the Church before and do something. The somethings to be done can be done in the parishes, in the homes, with prayer and fasting.

My second favorite quotation of the week is from Our Lady of Akita, an approved apparition.

"Many men in this world afflict the Lord. I desire souls to console Him to soften the anger of the Heavenly Father. I wish, with my Son, for souls who will repair by their suffering and their poverty for the sinners and ingrates."

"In order that the world might know His anger, the Heavenly Father is preparing to inflict a great chastisement on all mankind. With my Son I have intervened so many times to appease the wrath of the Father. I have prevented the coming of calamities by offering Him the sufferings of the Son on the Cross, His Precious Blood, and beloved souls who console Him forming a cohort of victim souls. Prayer, penance and courageous sacrifices can soften the Father's anger. I desire this also from your community...that it love poverty, that it sanctify itself and pray in reparation for the ingratitude and outrages of so many men.

Recite the prayer of the Handmaids of the Eucharist with awareness of its meaning; put it into practice; offer in reparation (whatever God may send) for sins. Let each one endeavor, according to capacity and position, to offer herself entirely to the Lord."

Mazara said...

isis is waging a religious war,the powers that be will not acknowledge that ,they might have secularised the West ,they wont succeed in the East.The people now running amok and slaughtering people make Saddam and Gadaffi look like civilised gentlemen.one of America's allies Saudi Arabia regularly behead people and mutilate them ,how can the West condemn one without the other,when both are branches on the one tree.