Sunday, March 03, 2013

Giving the Faith Back

I was quite struck by Sandro Magisters reference to a change in the "power bases" of the Conclave to elect a successor to Benedict XVI.

Cleansing the Church of "filth" must be one of the priorities of the next Pope, as must be sorting out the Curia, though actually having an efficient Curia might well result in more powerful Rome and more centralisation, but the priority of any Pope must be furthering belief itself, making the Church evangelical. "Filth" exists and is tolerated because we have forgotten the Commandments and the call to Repentance. The Curia is corrupt and inefficient, mainly inefficient I suspect, because it tends to exist for itself rather than to serve the Church's mission.

John Paul II in many ways strengthened the role of Bishops and laid more work on Episcopal Conferences, Benedict with Summorum Pontificum and the Year for Priests, and his Liturgical theology emphasis on the Mass was very much about priests.

I hope the next Pope is able to bring about a sense of Mission, that ordinary Catholics are somehow taught that they are sent out to proclaim Salvation. Jesus did not come to set up a Church so that it might serve itself, he established his Church to proclaim Salvation to the ends of the Earth.

Since Vatican II the faith has been taken out of the hands of the ordinary faithful. An urgent priority must be giving it back to men and women in the pew. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a wonderful tool for bishops and priests, in many ways it has trandformed Seminary formation but as far as the man and woman in the pew is concerned it is a closed book. The faith of so many clergy, of so many "professional Catholics" and "thinking Catholics" is far removed from the faith of their grandparents and their forefathers, it is not better informed, it is a different faith, in some cases it is not faith at all but doubt, which is the enemy of faith. It does not recognise Jesus as being necessary for Salvation, it doesn't recognise the veracity of Revelation, nor the reality of the Sacraments nor the Sacredness of the necessity of Communion with the Church. It does not recognise even that which is right or wrong, in many ways the Church itself is the great font of "Relativism", and indeed the ills of the Church spring from Relativism within it.

The best catechised children I ever prepared for First Communion received their formation from their illiterate grandmother, they were from an Irish traveller family. Grandmother had done presumably what had her family had done for a thousand years and teach the faith, which was the basis of her life, sitting around her hearth.

The Spirit of Vatican II, the emphasis on personal opinion, the change in devotional and liturgical practises has robbed the ordinary faithful of the faith, placing it the hands of specialists. I pray the the next Pope will find a way of returning it.

Perhaps the best way might be to ensure the diocese of Rome is itself the best formed, catechised and evangelised in the world. Now if all those Cardinals, Bishops and Monsignors actually started catechising and evangelising the children and men and women of the city and the people of the world who come to visit the Eternal City, it might help to prioritise things for them and act as model for the rest of the Church.

I really do believe that a priority must be producing simple catechetical material that communicates the essence of the faith, for children and those preparing for the sacraments, models that can be used throughout the Church. Using the best minds in the Church to do that would indeed be pleasing to the Lord, and an example to us all, as would the example of them praying in Roman churches


Colonel Mustard said...

Amen! This is all so true. It's a great joy to see people discover the Faith after years of mediocrity

The Model Bus Blog said...

Dear Father,

Wouldn't it be lovely to see the 'Penny Catechism' freely available (updated and revised, maybe) again? - a simple and forthright guide to Catholicism for Catholics in the pew. Couple this with a return to some wholesome, even if occasional, catechesis from the pulpit, reverence and prayerfulness in church and a faithfulness to the Instructions and Rubrics on both sides of the ‘altar rails’ (where such things might currently be lacking) and we'd soon see the merit that a deeper understanding of our Catholicism has. So many Catholics, not necessarily through any fault of their own, seem to have lost such an understanding over the last generation.


On the side of the angels said...

I think this is the main problem with the 'new evangelisation' [and the way it diverges from Benedict XVI's definition] - it's very much a 'how and what we do' group-hug like some mormon/scientology promo video - the 'why' inherent within the penny catechism - the fundamental principle of the Catholic Evidence Guild - is lost in all this name-dropping and 'personal faith journeys' and dumbing down of the Faith while implying one's doing the opposite [snobbish snippets of Chrysostom or Hippolytus to deliver a 'let's be nice' message] - we're not some elitist social club with renowned ex-members; nor is this aggrandised 'group acceptance/believing in yourself for self-vindication/flourishing' where we have membership house-rules with fringe-benefits.
For anyone who doesn't understand the difference try comparing Fr Robert Barron's "Catholicism" with Frank Sheed's 'Theology for Beginners' - the first shows a glitzy 'how to do Catholicism' while the second is 'why we are Catholics'

Mike Cliffson said...

Fr, no personal application intended:
You seem to be saying what I learnt as a boy,(Midfifties, recently baptized catholic,convert family) in various wordings:
Protestants remain protestant BECAUSE of the learning/character/charism/winning personality/gifts of their pastor
Catholics IN SPITE OF their priests'ditto

Anita Moore said...

No need to re-invent the wheel on producing good catechetical materials: just to start with, go back to the old Baltimore Catechism. If I had kids, I'd teach them out of the Baltimore Catechism. It is simple, straightforward, clear (which is why modernists hate it so much), and promotes memorization. Memorization, by the way, much derided in the last 40 years or so, needs to be brought back as a teaching tool. It is the memorized truths that most readily spring to our aid in times of crisis and distress.

George said...

Good reflection.

Your comments questioning the right priority to place on removing the filth within the Church made me think of Matthew 13:24-30.

Jacobi said...

“the Church itself is the great font of "Relativism", and indeed the ills of the Church spring from Relativism within it”.

How right you are.

That is why we now need a new Syllabus of Errors, a Conciliar Syllabus, as called for by Bishop Schneider, to counter the false teachings and implications, and the “doctrinal, liturgical and pastoral confusions” of the “Spirit of Vatican II” Relativists.

A Reluctant Sinner said...

Excellent post! Thank you.

Lepanto said...

I think many priests and bishops could do with a dose of the Catholic teaching Mrs. Callaghan gave us in the mid fifties. At 7 years of age we were made very aware that Hell was real and that the Church existed to stop us going there. She would be arrested today for her vivid descriptions of what awaited the wicked, including ourselves if we weren't good. Maybe there wasn't enough said about the depth of Jesus' love for us but that did come later. I shall always be grateful to her and her kind.

Zephyrinus said...

Dear Fr,

A magnificent Post and a wonderful "Call-To-Arms" to our Priests, Bishops and Cardinals.

May the Holy Ghost lead the Cardinals in Rome to elect a Pope who will, indeed, oversee the fundamental changes that you mentioned.

in Domino.

Fr Levi said...

The Baltimore Catechism can be found online here:

& the Penny Catechism here:

Physiocrat said...

The Augean Stables must be cleaned, and something has to be done about the deeply unimpressive liturgy and the architectural settings in which it is framed.

nodjam said...

Anita Moore is totally accurate in naming the Baltimore Catechism(in the US) as foundational learning tool.
I think if you trace the timeline of when basic catechists started waning, it would be the elimination of the Baltimore Catechism from the learning process.
This book could be the simple, straight forward tool Father is talking about.

Thinker said...

That photograph at the head of your blog is ridiculous. Reason plays a part and reason means debate, contestation, thought, not slavish following.

Thinker said...

That photograph at the top of your posting is ridiculous. It suggests humans are wholly passive. Reason plays its part, which means rigorous thought, vigorous debate, critical thought, not slavish following.

Ma Tucker said...

"Among the nine votes that Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, the flagship candidate of the progressive cardinals opposed to the election of Ratzinger, received in the first scrutiny of the conclave of 2005, there were precisely those of O'Brien, Mahony, and Danneels."

(extract Sandro Magister's Toward the Conclave)

Anonymous said...

That photograph at the head of your blog is ridiculous. Reason plays a part and reason means debate, contestation, thought, not slavish following.

Let's not play silly bugger. Of course we employ reason and have room for discussion and debate, but there is a limit. Remember that being Catholic is a voluntary association, and if one can't accept those teachings that are binding on the conscience, then personal integrity means either figuring a way to accept them or go somewhere else rather than trying to insist that the Church accommodate my idiosyncratic views.

Anita Moore said...

Thinker said: That photograph at the head of your blog is ridiculous. Reason plays a part and reason means debate, contestation, thought, not slavish following.

Pope Benedict XVI to the bishops of England and Wales on February 1, 2010:

In a social milieu that encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises, it is important to recognise dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate. It is the truth revealed through Scripture and Tradition and articulated by the Church’s Magisterium that sets us free.

Anonymous said...

A welcome post. Thank you, Father.

BJC said...

The Baltimore Catechism is easily the best catechetical text I've read. How I could have done with this at school in the 70's. There was no need to produce the Compendium of the new catechism. The Baltimore Catechism is better full stop.

Sorry to say but in terms of catechetical material I think this is one area where the SSPX have got things right. If you look at the angelus press website they've got all the old classics from the 50's like the BC, My Catholic Faith, My Way of Life, Frank Sheed etc and I've learnt a heck of a lot from reading them. Thank God (literally) books like this are still being printed.

Anonymous said...

There was no need to produce the Compendium of the new catechism. The Baltimore Catechism is better full stop.

I agree. However, there is one thing I like about the Compendium: it explicitly lists usury as forbidden by the 7th commandment. This is important because there is always some chucklehead who argues that the Church changed its teaching on usury, and therefore we can do any nasty thing with our genitalia that we can think of.

pablothemexican said...

So, was the Irish grandma a Liberal feminst Eucharistic charismatic Associate Pastor?


wretchedwithhope said...

Since we, in the post-latin-west, are born into a fierce anti-christianism (I would call it anti-crucifixism) that has polluted the Church as well, a heresy, which they say 'leads to a pratical atheism', a return to the lodestone Who had been building the Church's magnetic might for 2000 years might help the Church to get over it's multiple personalities (that is the church seems now to be a series of satellites circing various lodestones offered up by the world).

"Get out of here now! the Catholic Faith is a gift from Almighty God and I will not have your pollution in it! Get out!" This was the response of Bishop Fulton Sheen to a man who approached him wanting to speak about a 'beautiful' book combing elements of the christian faith with elements of near eastern religion. Did Bishop Fulton Sheen belong to a different Church? They man with the book on extra-ecclesial ecumenism is now too often the pasta - When clergy pollute from the pulpit so nicely, so self-assuredly, that pulpit needs exorcising. Or maybe the people in the pews simply need to realise that whatever a Bishop or Priest says and does IS the CHURCH - who can say?

p.s. did anyone see Fr. Morris on the fox news reporting about the Pope leaving the Vatican for Castel Gandolfo? He praised Benedict, expressed some postive hopes for the next Pope then blurted out, 'it's not like everyone needs to become a Catholic.'

What would Bishop Sheen say, now?

Athelstane said...

I would also like to second the Baltimore Catechism...

This is not to criticize the current CCC; but in reality, it is not an ideal tool for catechizing the faithful, not directly. The Baltimore Catechism, on the other hand, did have a remarkable knack for instilling the teachings of the Church with real clarity and precision.

The Compendium and Youcat seem like steps in recognizing the value of the BC's question-answer format and precision of language, although I'm not sure they quite attain the same level of excellence.

It has long since become commonplace to criticize the Baltimore Catechism for reducing catechesis to rote memorization. But a catechism is only a starting point for the faith, not an end. Concepts not fully understood but memorized by a child can and usually do crystallize for that same child at an older age when they have cause to reflect on these matters - like arithmetic tools, it is a tool to the hand which can later be used by a more developed mind.

Physiocrat said...

Usury is the second most important contributory factor to the present economic difficulties which have affected most countries - though not apparently Muslim ones where it is banned.

This could, with advantage, have been pointed out yet I have never heard, or heard of, a single public utterance on the subject from anyone in an official position in the Catholic church. This is, in its way, as shameful as the recent sexual scandals.

Interestingly, the real rate of interest on savings is normally close to zero after allowing for inflation, so there seems to be some kind of a natural law at work which drives interest rates down to zero. This should not be entirely surprising, since the payment of interest requires a constant increase in the quantity of money, which would have the effect of reducing the value of money.

Physiocrat said...

In my view one of the problems with the large Chatechism is that it is very badly laid out from a typographic design point of view. This makes it difficult to navigate through the book and that puts people off engaging with it.

It is all very well saying that people have responsibility to make themselves familiar with the church's teaching, but those who are responsible for the teaching have an even bigger responsibility to make sure that they present the material clearly.

nickbris said...

The garbage press and above all the BBC are having a Field-Day and getting apoplectic about Cardinal O'Brien's public confession,His Eminence has confessed to not being as good as he should have been;well I think that might apply to all of us Catholics,we were brought up to believe that we were better than the others and some of us grew up realizing that we are no different from the heathen

We have an in-built guilt complex and continually wonder whether we should actually call ourselves Catholics

BJC said...

Forgot to add I came across this link to the Douay Catechsim of 1649 the other day. It puts modern day catechetics in the shade. It just goes to show how after 350 years "progress" can take you backwards not forwards. In terms of catechetics I think the modern day church needs to eat some humble pie and start using the old stuff. Reformation Catholics could knock spots off us. Its embarrasing. Nothing wrong with swallowing your pride.

Ma Tucker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anthony Jordan said...

Out of curiosity, is that Archbishop Fulton Sheen at the blackboard?

nickbris said...

Graham Greene was persuaded to become a Catholic because of his guilt about his sexual proclivities

Greg Collins said...

I recognise Jesus as being necessary for Salvation, I embrace the veracity of Revelation, I accept the reality of the Sacraments and the Sacredness of the necessity of Communion with the Church. (Though I wish sometimes I did not, much as any addict may wish to be free of their addiction, but my need of relationship Christ and His Church, membership of the Mystical Body, is consuming) I recognise that which is right or wrong, and have little time for "Relativism".

But my problem is a simple one. A common one. When confronted by a 'wrong', and informed by Holy Mother Church, how does one respond in love of neighbour as Christ commanded?

To respond with points of canon law is easy, to quote the Catechism and Encyclicals is a simple task. To cite Sacred Tradition and the Ordinary Magisterium is another easy path to take. But to respond in real, genuine, heartfelt, love in the situations that people find themselves in, situations that are dirty and messy and complicated and chaotic, as Christ would have me do? That is my challenge.

If my reluctance to impose simplistic, legalistic, rigid and fundamentally unloving solutions on others, especially those not of the Faith, makes me a dissenter unable to make a mature contribution etc., well, so be it. I'll continue to pray for my conversion and ask you to pray for me too.

Anonymous said...

If my reluctance to impose simplistic, legalistic, rigid and fundamentally unloving solutions on others, especially those not of the Faith, makes me a dissenter unable to make a mature contribution etc., well, so be it. I'll continue to pray for my conversion and ask you to pray for me too.

Unless you are summoning 12 Swiss Guards to kick in a non-believer's door, abduct him and strap him to a chair and force him to endure round-the-clock catechism class until he converts, I'm not sure how telling someone the truth constitutes imposing or even imposing in an unloving way.