Tuesday, August 06, 2013

From Grandma's knee to the Specialist

Just continuing cogitating on the nature of Catholicism...

I remember preparing some children for first Holy Communion when I was first ordained, the eldest was twelve the youngest barely seven, they were wily and bright but hardly educated, they could read only a little, they were an Irish traveller family, most of the preparation was done by their Grandmother who was illiterate who used to drill them in the catechism sitting by a paraffin stove in her caravan, dispensing sweets to those who got answer right. Obviously they didn't understand much of what they repeated but they knew the words and formulas, and they knew the prayers. They knew the old prayers, like the Confiteor with the saints, prayers to Our Lady, lots of them and their favourite the prayer to St Michael. I admit even after 1st Confession and Communion they weren't that good at attending Mass, presumably in part because of the traveller lifestyle. When they did attend, even with my expert catechesis, they didn't seem to understand the Mass, they either fidgeted throughout especially during the readings. Their grandmother tried to encourage them to say 'the beads', as her grandmother had taught her, ' it was easier for the children with Latin Mass', she used to say. For everyone from their community the liturgy but especially the liturgy of the Word simply passed over them like a silken veil, they were bored stiff. As far as morality was concerned, it was adapted to their needs, Grandma assured me 'we don't steal from one another, Father, and it would be shameful if one of the girls married and wasn't a virgin'.

St Vincent of Lerins in the 5th cent said,
"catholic is that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all" 
my traveller family could certainly sign up to that they believed, they were fortunate Grandma  passed on what she received. She had the confidence to pass it on, in the same way as her ancestors had past it on to her. Fr Richard Aladics has done a series on the rise and fall of Corpus Christi Catechetical Institute which rose in 1965 and finally fell in 1975, his posts on it end here. CCCI was a great and destructive experiment in catechesis which still has its perverse effects today in the English speaking world. One of its chief consequences was to make catechesis something belonging to specialists rather than grandma sitting by the fire with her brood, and what can be said of catechesis can be said of worship and morality too.

It would be difficult for us today to suggest the words of St Vincent actually defined Catholicism today. The faith of the ordinary Catholic, NOT in the pew on a Sunday, the product of our Catholic school system, somewhere between 90-97% of those who we might regard as Catholic, is certainly not the faith presented in the Catechism of the Church. It is our habit to inflate figures, apparently the estimated figures for attendance at WYD, 3 million, would suggest 7 people per square meter on the beach with the Pope, which is unbelievable. In what sense should we regard as Catholic those 1.4 billion estimated as being the number of Catholics in the world? Perhaps statistics should not be taken too seriously especially when used by men of the Church.

St Vincent's word seem to suggest that 'the faith' is something from below, passed on by grandmothers around the fire, rather than something which comes above, from the Catechism, from Rome, from specialists. There is certainly an important role in oversight of the faith from above, correcting error in calling to obedience but somehow there is a need to find ways in which the faith can be given back to the people.

There was a story sometime ago of an Orthodox priest in Russia who 'married'  a homosexual couple, the local men gathered and razed the church to the ground. If such a thing happened in Europe the response would be indifference. The majority of Catholics would either go along the priest, with a 'father knows best' attitude or would probably feel the Church is behind the times and needs to catch up. Whatever the motivation, the Catholic attitude is that what we believe is changeable. The reaction to Pope Francis' election was that everything could change along with the Pope, it is the one thing that unites Traditional and Conservative Catholics with Liberals and Progressives. This is a worrying state. The Papal oath abandoned by Paul VI not to change anything, along with the outward signs that Benedict tried to restore, gave some stability to the Papacy, the unchanging Liturgy, the sense that Liturgy was a given gave stability to the Church.

The community liturgyAt the heart of St Vincent's words is the notion of continuation, a timelessness and universality, 'always, everywhere and by all'. The understanding of Catholic merely as 'universal' is a foreshortening, it is the timelessness of it that is important. In many ways the dismantling of the ancient liturgy following VII undermined the sense of 'always'. If the worship after 1968 could be changed, so could the content of 'the faith' and if the changes were enforced from above, from Rome then surely this is also the source of 'the faith', Again, if the liturgy could vary so widely from Mass at the High Altar of Brompton Oratory, with traditional vestments and music and in Latin to Father X sitting on a bean bag wearing just a stole making it up as he went along, why could 'the faith' not also be variable. Despite its intention VII taught, subliminally at least, especially through the liturgy, that Catholicism was what Ratzinger would define as 'Relativistic', most importantly of all by Father quite literally turning his back on that which was held holy by past generations, if not smashing it with a sledgehammer.

'The faith' post VII, was not the faith of the previous generations, it was in a state of flux. The movement of the Blessed Sacrament in some diocese from the centre of the apse to a side chapel or a tabernacle in the corner of the sanctuary and rubrics restricting the genuflections of the priest, said what we believed yesterday about the Real Presence is not what we believe today, similarly the change in funeral rites from sombre black, the Dies Irae, intercession for the dead to Mass in thanksgiving for the life of the dead person brought in a serious undermining of one of Catholicism most important certainties about death and judgement, again it said what we believed yesterday, we do not believe today.

The wholesale rubbishing of the pre-Concilliar 'the faith' by those charged with implementing the post-Concilliar teaching did little to boost the confidence of those who had received the faith at grandmothers' knees. This certainly served to place the 'the faith' in the hands the specialist, especially as their main point was to underline and explain all that was new in contradistinction to what had been passed on. Even amongst the clergy and religious those things that had often attracted them to the priesthood or religious life were often considered evil and simply swept away.

The curriculum in seminaries and houses of formation were often aimed at rooting out that which was passed on, hence scripture was more about teaching the untrustworthiness of scripture, moral theology became how to get around traditional Catholic morality, liturgy became a justification for ditching past practices, theology rather than deepening faith tended to undermine it, theology tended to emphasise rupture and to be based not on the liturgy but non-Christian philosophical notions, Rahner supplanted Aquinas. An apparently new theology with apparently new set of doctrines alienated many clergy. The great boom in vocations in the fifties ended with a whimper in the sixties, and I suspect left many clergy traumatised, trying to explain something which they didn't understand or necessarily belief in, to people who didn't understand or want what was now offered.

Just as numbers of seminarians dropped, so there was the great exeunt from the clergy over Humanae Vitae, whether this was directly to do with birth-control or simply a reason to leave for clergy who had lost faith in the Church will be up to historians to judge. The significant change was that the clergy were left offering a faith which was received from somewhere else, the Council Fathers, which was not what they received from their parents, to give to a people who had similarly received a different tradition.

The situation has changed drastically since the heady days immediately following the Council but survey after survey reports Catholic disagree with the hierarchy, and some of the hierarchy seem to disagree with Rome on everything from celibacy to sexual morality, the Real Presence to scriptural inspiration. It is not they people believe but do not have the moral strength or insight to understand what they believe, as the pages of the Tablet reveal week by week there is a vast gulf between 'the institutional Church' and the 'the Church of the people'.

In Orthodoxy St Victor's description of 'catholic' might well stand but in the West does 'Catholic' really mean, 'that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all'? If so it should be the faith passed on by an Irish traveller grandmother sitting by the fire with her grandchildren.


Anthony N. Emmel said...

Amen, father.

Gerald said...

Amen, Father! Virtually my entire family fell away from the Church in the 1970s. From talking with my father, who was so devout as a teenager, I learned that the regime of novelty destroyed his faith by making the Church seem like a changeable, man-made thing. The wholesale liturgical changes traumatised him. Now he is a Baptist because, as he says, "The Bible doesn't change with the wind!"

Twannes van Antwaarpe said...

Amen, Father.

You say: "The understanding of Catholic merely as 'universal' is a foreshortening, it is the timelessness of it that is important."

Which is why V2 is doomed. V2 is merely temporary, and not eternal. It is disintegrating.

Mrs D. said...

Dear Father, you have succinctly put into words what my husband and I have been feeling lately - especially when viewing the Blessed Sacrament being handed out from plastic beakers at World Youth Day...and the appalling display of priests and bishops in liturgical vestments "dancing" in a flash mob prior to Mass. The grandmothers would not recognise it as the Faith that was handed down to them, and we are finding it harder to see ourselves as in communion with this Church... sigh.

akp5401 said...

Father, everything you have said here is true. What can we do? - apart from living our faith, learning and deepening it through use of orthodox RC sources, and encouraging others to live their faith as well. The words Our Lord said ring out strongly to me - 'when the Son of Man comes will he find any faith on earth?'(Luke 18:8)

Cosmos said...

That is precisely how I feel. Thank you, Father.

GOR said...

Well I can’t say I got my faith or religious understanding from my grandmother. My paternal one had died long before my parents even married. My maternal one died when I was nine and suffered from dementia in her declining years – so I have no great memories of grandparents.

But, my mother and father were strong influences, as were the sisters who taught us until about age seven or eight. But what I remember most from those early years was the community aspect of Catholicism. The parish was like a large family – not that everyone got along, as in many families – but there was a sense of belonging and responsibility.

Sunday Masses were packed. And not just Sundays, but all Holy Days, First Fridays, First Saturdays, not to mention Requiem Masses, Month’s Mind Masses and Anniversary Masses for the deceased. Devotions – Adoration, Holy Hours, Rosary and Benediction – were also well attended. Missing Mass without good reason was unthinkable.

Then there were the Confraternities – one for men and one for women – meeting in church fortnightly or monthly. Also the annual Parish Mission – given by priests of assorted religious orders like the Passionists, Dominicans, Redemptorists, etc.

But underlying all of life was a strong belief in God – that He was everywhere, saw everything and all matters were in His hands.

“God willing” “With the help of God” “Lord have mercy on him/her” and similar utterances were not idle remarks – people really believed them. That is what we have lost.

JARay said...

I'm with GOR on this.

. said...

Wow! You have made some very, very good points.

We live in strange times.

However, was ever thus. Am re-reading Aquinas by Chesterton.

Although written many years ago, it's interesting what Chesterton has to say to us now.

If anyone is disheartened that there is no way out, have a look at his book on Aquinas.

In short, we've been this way before.

Chrissy said...

I could not agree more Father
I joined the church fifty years ago, and felt that I belonged .To me , the church was perfect , and I cherished every moment that I spent at there , either at Mass , or in private prayer .Today , however , the church does not have the same attraction , I object to the happy clappy songs , the guitars , the drums , the noise , the sign of peace , with some people rushing around , hugging and kissing . I object to forming a queue and standing to receive Holy Communion , instead of kneeling at the altar rails , and receiving on the tongue . I dislike the fact that people other than the priest handle Our Lord , and will myself never receive from anyone other than the priest .
I object to when Mass is offered up on a table , when there is a beautiful altar . I am extremely uncomfortable with the children in our CATHOLIC schools dedicating whole lessons to learning about various other faiths . So much has changed , and I fear that the church will never again be the church to which I was so happy to belong . At one time , I was unable to pass an open church without going inside to say a few prayers , but today , this is a very rare event .
With Benedict , I had high hopes that the church that I once knew and loved , would eventually return , but now that looks highly unlikely.

Nicolas Bellord said...

I learnt my catechism at my mother's knee. I cannot say that I understood it all then but it has stayed with me and I think I have progressed in understanding over the last seventy years or so. Without it where would I be?

Unknown said...

While the grass may be greener on the other side liturgically I think you are rather exaggerating the excellence of the situation in most other respects. The Easterners have consistently failed to preach the truth about the indissolubility of marriage (indeed, they even officially teach, contrary to the gospel, that divorce is possible), most of their married clergy, I gather, dissent from the immemorial teaching of the church regarding contraception. From what I have read on their online forums the parish clergy in places like Greece do not even bother to hear confessions; they consider it the duty of the monks to do that.

I do not write this in order to do them down, I love them deeply, I a, just a little worried that some people might read these words of yours father and be seriously tempted to apostatise. Such an attitude is a good example of the worst sort of Ultramontanist ahistoricism (the pope is behaving strangely, I should leave), of course.

Popes are not always good! History proves this! Lets just knuckle down and play the long game.

Unknown said...

Why do all your respondents insist on using language that most of us have never used or heard of in our lives....'Ultramontanist ahistoricism' I spend most of my time looking words up in the dictionary only to find that there are much more common /frequently used words that can say the same ... is this just a blog that attracts Christian Catholics who think they are intellectuals . For goodness sake if you have a thought to share could we have it in plain English .

Nicolas Bellord said...

Dear Susan,

I wonder what equivalent simple word you found for "ultramontanist". "Cisalpine" for instance? There was once a Cisalpine Club which was a club of English Catholic landowners promoting Catholic emancipation. They met at the Thatched House Tavern in St James's street and drank the most prodigious amounts of claret, sauternes and port.

As you may have found from the SOED the problem with "ultramontanism" is that its meaning changes depending whether you are north or south of the alps. I hope you find this educational!

My edition of the SOED does not run to "ahistorical" but it means "not historical" I think.

Unknown said...

No I didn't find it educational . I think this blog is not for me , full of people who want to show off what long & obscure words they know . I'm sure I won't be missed , clearly this is not Catholic enough for me ;)

nickbris said...

Quite right Susan,I was beginning to think that I must have been half asleep most of my seventy five years.Gobbledegook is the name of the game at the moment.

Picking holes in The Holy Father is also on the agenda now.The main culprits of course are the converts which have been crossing the floor in their droves since CofE fell out over women Priests & Bishops

ServusMariaeN said...

Once more Father Blake I find that you are able to put into words exactly my thoughts and feelings regarding the Church of the past 45+ years. Since the 1970s there has been the idea that everything can change in the Church. I learned my faith from nuns of the old school in the early 1970s who gave us "The Penny Catechism". If I were a wealthy man, I would buy millions of them to distribute among all Catholics. I don't think that most of us are willing to admit the gravity of the situation in the Church.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Susan and Nickbris: Apologies if I have upset either of you. However there is an important point here. History is useful in shedding light on what is happening now. You mention that picking holes in the Holy Father is on the agenda. This is where history comes to be important as there is nothing new here.

Originally ultramontanism meant those people over the alps as seen from Rome. However the meaning got reversed when it meant those people over the alps as seen from Northern Europe who are utterly loyal to the Holy Father. Thus I suspect you are both ultramontanists in that sense.

Gallicanism is another long word but it refers to the French Church who were not ultramontanists but thought they could ignore much of what the Holy Father said.

Cisalpine means "this side of the alps". The fine old Catholic families were large landowners tired of the restrictions placed on them by the Government. They therefore said there loyalty to the Pope was restricted to spiritual matters and in temporal matters they were loyal to the King and therefore should no longer be regarded as near traitors. Not all agreed - Thomas Weld (later a Cardinal) refused to have anything to do with the Cisalpine Club.

These differences have persisted over the years and we now see those who do not want to be controlled by the Holy Father and want the Church to do its own thing locally.

I think these historical parallels are interesting and possibly help us to understand what is happening to-day and how these problems might be resolved. The long words may be novel to people but they are really just a useful shorthand for describing complicated ideas.

It happens in all works of life that there are technical terms. For most of us a hammer is a hammer. To specialists there are many different kinds of hammer - claw, ball-peen, sledge, gavel, telephone etc. Such words are useful and when carpenter or other technician uses them it is because he wants the correct hammer and is not showing off!

Damask Rose said...

Fr Ray said:

"The situation has changed drastically since the heady days immediately following the Council but survey after survey reports Catholic disagree with the hierarchy, and some of the hierarchy seem to disagree with Rome on everything from celibacy to sexual morality, the Real Presence to scriptural inspiration."

St Vincent of Lerins in the 5th cent said,
"catholic is that which has been believed everywhere, always*, and by all"

In an ironic way St Vincent's comment is true of today too. You just have to go to any number of Catholic parishes and see how CINO-ism is being practised quite fervently up and down the country. Cino-ism espoused by clergy and laity alike.

*always can mean the last couple of Catholic generations and the faith practised in the last few decades. The faith remembered by older Catholics as described by commenters here will one day be forgotten - the "living memory" factor. The fate of many Catholics is becoming worrisome.

I won't use terms as "traditional" or "orthodox" as that smacks of a two-tier, perhaps accepted way of practising Catholicism, if one takes "liberal" Catholicism into consdieration. (Especially considering some uncharitable comments by traditional Catholicism of late on the blogosphere.) So I'll stick to "pious".

One is either fervent or luke-warm in the practice of the faith.

Pious Catholics seemed to have become nomadic. Travelling, looking for old-fashioned priests and parishes to sustain their faith. I would say, in my experience, becoming marginalised in their own home parishes.

Even in the 80s when I was a teenager it didn't seem so bad.

The Church seems to becoming more heathen. Women on the Sanctuaries are doing things not rightly meant for them seem to be taking the Church to a pre-Christian era, think Vestal Virgins, the priestess of Baal.

Pious nomadic Catholics are like the angels taking refuge at Lot's house in Sodom - not sure if this is an exaggeration what with the way society is rapidly legalising gay marriage and "homoheresy" in the Church.

Some younger and older priests have discovered the Mass of Ages and there seems to be a little revival - but it's pockets here and there. I'm not sure the Church will ever recover and be like what GOR commented upon. I think we're in Remnant Times.

(Perhaps I should have more hope!)

AndrewWS said...

"The main culprits of course are the converts which have been crossing the floor in their droves since CofE fell out over women Priests & Bishops" - evidence, please.

The Ordinariates (to one of which I belong) are second to scarcely any in their failthfulness to the magisterium and reverence for the Holy Father.

St Vincent of Lerins is frequently quoted by Anglicans, and I took him as my patron when I was received into the church. It's good to find a Catholic priest making reference to him

Supertradmum said...

Parents, not priests or teachers in schools, are the primary teachers of the Faith to their children. This is done, hopefully, but I know it is not, by example, daily family prayer, small Catholic customs, and catechises. The weakness in the Catholic Church is that parents have abdicated this role. When I stand before God at my particular judgement, he is not going to ask whether I made sure Fr. ..... passed on the Faith to my son, but whether I did.

Unknown said...

Will the Lord also ask you "What music did you worship me with?" "Did you haave an organ?" "Did you genuflect in all the right places" "Do you say your prayers in Latin?" - I feel like many of you have misunderstood me and believe I am 'anti-tradition' when I am not. I have been brought up a catholic for the full 21 years of my life. My mother, whom has her faith passed down to her, has passed it down to me. Together we have both helped with Children's liturgy, RCIA, first holy communion, youth groups and confirmation. Together we both try to understand scripture and praay we celebrate mass together, talk about homilies - and yet you would tell her she has done a bad job. What about the African grandmothers? Would they pass their catholic faith on in exactly the same way as the irish traveler? Must we westernise the cathloic faith and turn those we don't deem 'catholic enough' for us away? Did our Lord turn the sinners away?

After reading this blog and it's various comments I am disheartend and have strongly questioned my faith, not in terms of the Eucharist, I believe in the true presence whole heartedly, I love the mass and every word used within it, I love the catholic faith, and yet I find myself turned away from it by those I would have called my brothers and sisters and a priest - none-the-less a priest of my own diocese. I would apparently by many of you be chased out of a church wth a guitar and a catechism thrown at my head on my way out. I have recently returned from Arundel and brightons pilgrimage to Lourdes, where my heart sung with the lord's praise, every inch of me reached out to him during the eucharist, I felt my heart sore with every word of the mass and, joining with our lady in prayer was something so special. And yet, father Ray, is this blog actually part of your pastoral care? Is this what, as a catholic priest, you are called to do? To help those in your flock by allowing fellow christians to attack them insteadd of enfolded them within your flock and, if believing they are led astray, take care and nurture them. Having commented on your blog several times now, I have been accused of being 'not catholic enough' of beiing 'heathen', what must you have me feel then, father, except that I am not loved or wanted by the catholic church because I don't 'fit in'. I am suffering from both depression and anxiety at the moment, and merely this treatment from that of my own faith has made me feel like there is something incredibly wrong with me, and that, instead of the support and love I had longed and believed the church would give me, I find myself hurled with stones and elitist language and beliefs. So again, Father Ray, I ask you, is this what your pastoral care of your flock consists of? Is this the support and guidance you offer me?

Nicolas Bellord said...

Jane: I cannot see where you have been called a 'heathen' or 'not catholic enough'. By putting those words inside quote marks I presumed you meant that these exact words had been used. Anyway cheer up as I think you are making a useful contribution to this discussion.

Unknown said...

In previous blog I was told some comments were not as 'valid' and catholic as others, also that the use of music or praise I agree with is not 'catholic' and 'heathen'

Fr Ray Blake said...

Truthfulness is very important, deliberately misrepresenting those who oppose your position is untruthful, to suggest that something is 'un-Catholic', which is not difficult as numerous pre- and post- Concilliar documents and the various liturgical books plainly show, is certainly not the same as describing YOU as being a heathen.
That is just distortion of an argument and that is contrary to the Gospel.

Unknown said...

I am sorry if my words above used a little too much jargon. What I meant by Ultramontanist is excellently explained above by Mr Bellord.

When I used the term "ahistorical" I was referring to the tendency amongst today's Catholics to forget the lessons of history.

These are that the sad reality is that it is a nonsense to follow every non-magisterial word the Holy Father says and even impose the "tone" he sets. History shows that, firstly, popes can and do contradict one another and make mistakes in matters not directly related to doctrine and, even when issuing documents, while the church is preserved from error, it is not preserved from expressing itself badly or untactfully, or ordering immoral things (eg one council ordered that all Jews wear yellow markers and be segregated from Christians). Secondly, history shows that many great saints actively opposed the "tone" set by the Holy Father. Think of St Catherine of Siena begging that the pope return to Rome or those 15th century saints who consistently attacked the debauchery and wickedness openly practiced by some of the popes of that time.

We need to get a little more perspective. That's all. I am worried about people getting in a humph and risking their salvation by apostatising just because they haven't kept things in perspective.

Felix Romanus
(I posted as "Unknown" above)

Genty said...

Dear Jane, If you are a parishioner at St. Mary Magdalen in Brighton (or even if you aren't) may I suggest you seek a one-to-one with Fr. Blake. I find him a kind and generous man who does not make personal judgements and, most importantly, he listens. Do seek him out.
Jane, no-one on this blog is attacking you. And why should they? You are clearly active in your faith, which is more than many manage.
What posters are demonstrably anxious about is the depth and steadfastness of the deposit of faith which is passed on through the generations.
As I have mentioned previously, discussions here tend to be robust, which I think is a good sign because it shows Catholics are not robotic in their faith, but care deeply about offering the best that they believe is due to God.
We may differ on what that is. What never changes is the Divine truth which Our Lord gave to us. .
You are at liberty, as is everyone here, to express yourself as you choose. Debate is an excellent thing, so keep going. I've learned many things while reading various comments over time but I've never seen, nor would Fr. Blake allow, personal attacks. No-one here has said there is anything wrong with you, so I don't quite understand the fireworks. It is obvious your mother has gifted you a good, solid Catholic life.

GOR said...

Jane: I am sorry that you have been made to feel this way, but don’t let it get you down. I have remarked before that when I first started studying Theology I had the feeling that this was “dangerous stuff” and could impact one’s faith.

Not that there was anything wrong with Theology itself, but as you learn more and more about the historical struggles in the Church over assorted doctrines and the views that were sincerely held (though wrong) it can shake you.

You discover that things you had never questioned before had been questioned and with what sounded like very good arguments. So it is with many things and people in the Church still.

We have been given the gift of Faith but we will never understand it fully in this life. So we all struggle to try and understand it better and live it in our lives. But it will always be imperfect this side of Heaven. In the end all we can say, with the father of the possessed boy in the Gospel, is: “I believe Lord. Help thou my unbelief”. And never let go of that, no matter what anyone says or does.

felicitas said...

Thank you for allowing a frank discussion on your blog. The posts and the comments (from your thoughtful readers) have helped me reconsider some unexamined assumptions and biases. I’m not sure if anyone else has read this article, but it seemed somewhat relevant to recent discussions:


Martina Katholik said...

Albert Vassert, a former member of the French Communist Party revealed in 1955 that Moscow had issued a 1936 order that carefully selected members of the Communist youth enter seminaries, and after training, receive ordination as priests. Some of these were to infiltrate religious orders, particularly the Dominicans. (In his essay "Satan at Work", Dietrich Von Hildebrand reported that the French Dominicans had become so Communistic in their 'evangelization' that in 1953, the Order barely escaped dissolution by the order of Pope Pius

Kremlin Orders Infiltration of Catholic Clergy

Mr. Manning Johnson, a former official of the Communist Party in America gave the following testimony in 1953 to the House Unamerican Activities Committee: "Once the tactic of infiltration of religious organizations was set by the Kremlin ... the Communists discovered that the destruction of religion could proceed much faster through infiltration of the Church by Communists operating within the Church itself. The Communist leadership in the United States realized that the infiltration tactic in this country would have to adapt itself to American conditions and religious make-up peculiar to this country. In the earliest stages it was determined that with only small forces available to them, it would be necessary to concentrate Communist agents in the seminaries. The practical conclusion drawn by the Red leaders was that these institutions would make it possible for a small Communist minority to influence the ideology of future clergymen in the paths conducive to Communist purposes."

Further on in his testimony, Mr. Johnson pointed out the grim fact that: “THIS POLICY OF INFILTRATING SEMINARIES WAS SUCCESSFUL BEYOND EVEN OUR GREATEST EXPECTATIONS”.

"It is the axiom of Communist organization's strategy that if a body has 1% Communist Party and 9% Party sympathizers, this 10% can effectively control the remaining 90% who act and think on an individual basis."

Mr. Johnson further testified that the goals of this infiltration were twofold:

1. To make the Catholic Church no longer effective against Communism.
2. To direct clerical thinking away from the spiritual and toward the temporal and political ... hence, the preaching of the "social gospel".

Much more here:

About the relations Monsignor Montini, the future Pope Paul VI. had with the communists hereby acting without the permission of Pope Pius XII.:

Martina Katholik said...

The present worldwide devastation and crises of faith within the Church, therefore, is by no means an unexplainable phenomenon. It is far too complete to be an accident. Nothing was left to chance. Nothing was left untouched. There is not a single aspect of Catholicism whether it be liturgy, catechisms, seminaries, sacraments or anything else whatsoever that has not in some way been changed, watered-down, subverted or removed since the so-called Vatican II "renewal". It is obvious that "An enemy has done this" ... the enemies are the demons unleashed from hell referred to by Our Lady of La Salette operating through the organism of Communism warned of by Our Lady of Fatima. Since we have willfully turned our back on God, He is now allowing us to be scourged by the very demons of hell whose evil and immorality we so willingly embrace in our modern age. Our Lady of Fatima gave us the answer, if only we are willing to listen. She said, "Russia will be the instrument chosen by God to punish the world for its crimes ... man must cease offending God." Therefore, it is only by man giving up sin, turning back to God, learning God's revelation, living his faith and fulfilling the requests of Our Lady of Fatima that peace, sanity, order and holiness will ever return to our Church and our world. Let us commit ourselves to reciting the Rosary daily in reparation to the Immaculate heart of Mary as requested at Fatima, keeping our hope alive through the promise: “In the end, my Immaculate heart will triumph…”. Just as our Redeemer came to us through the Blessed Virgin Mary, so will the end of our present crisis.

Let us not complain about the state of our Church leaders if we ourselves are not doing our part.


Fr Ray Blake said...

A very interest theory, whenever it is put forward I always wonder how these young men managed to resist conversion.

Much more plausibly, is the influence of Protestant Biblical criticism, which was taken up by so many Catholics from the late 19th century onwards. Fr Aladics accounts of Corpus Christi's rise and fall which I linked suggests its affects on one Catholic institution which ended up having a significant influence on so many other Catholic institutions. Ultimately it was Relativistic.

Having apparently discredited Catholicism Communism became for many the only reasonable alternative.

Relativism has been something Ratzinger struggled against all his life with his work at VII on Dei Verbum right through to his trilogy Jesus of Nazareth

Gerald said...

St. Pius X called Modernism the "synthesis of all heresies"---not in an off-the-cuff press conference but in a magisterial document. He knew that it was the most destructive heresy of all. And if the Soviets infiltrated seminaries (which is very plausible when you consider they were behind both the slander of Ven. Pius XII and the attempted assassination of Bl. John Paul II!), then they could have used the greatest tool of destruction: Modernism and its bastard children.

Vatican II, as an event (and as a council---seen in the sudden jettisoning of the preparatory frameworks, the lack of an explicit purpose for calling it, and the resulting ambiguous texts) was hijacked by the Modernists and turned into a Trojan horse through which they succeeded in devastating the vineyard (to use Dietrich von Hildebrand's phrase). The revolution that took place could not have occurred without the purported backing of an ecumenical council. Perhaps Paul VI would still have been deceived, but without the council I don't think he would have dared to wield the supreme power of the papal office to force the revolution on the whole Church.

And with that he destroyed the ultramontane era of the papacy. That may be one of the silver linings of the present crisis in the Church. The Supreme Pontiff is the steward of sacred tradition, not tradition itself. Our beloved Pope Benedict understood that better than all the modern popes! Summorum Pontificum was a result of that understanding. May his great project of working for the reconciliation of the Church with Her tradition and heritage continue! And let us thank God we have priests like Fr. Ray and Fr. Tim Finigan leading us in this work of reconciliation.

Delia said...

Actually, a reliable Jesuit told me years ago about Communist infiltration of the Js. I think he was talking about a particular person, but I can't really remember. It struck me as extraordinary that anyone could get through all the Ignatian retreats without conversion.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I am sure I know that Jesuit, and I sure he was right but I think he would have said they lost their faith and became Communists rather than were part of a 'red plot'.
Even so I think we should distinguish between "card carrying" communists and those who adopted a Marxist method of intellectual analysis.
There aren't many of the former but the latter proliferate in academia and the arts, and certain theological movements, other dialecticts have replaced the 'class struggle' (except in S. American theologies, where it is still very active).

Gertrude said...

Such an honest post - but Father, what can be done? Pope Francis has a Latin-American approach, and no-one seems to have told him that he is Supreme Pontiff of the One Catholic and Universal Church.

Martina Katholik said...

From a review of Martin Malachi´s book “The Jesuits and the Betrayal of the Roman Catholic Church”:

However here the setting is restricted to the Jesuit arena of course and how little by little, the nature and purpose of the order was completely transformed by modernism.
That is to say, it speaks of a complete reversal of what Jesuitism has been.
Here we can do no better, I think, than to listen to the author in his own words, as he sums up what the Jesuits were in the past and what they have become:
“Classical Jesuitism, based on the spiritual teaching of Ignatius, saw the Jesuit mission in very clear outline.
There was a perpetual state of war on earth between Christ and Lucifer. Those who fought on Christ’s side, the truly choice fighters, served the Roman Pontiff diligently, were at his complete disposal, were ‘Pope’s Men.’
The ‘Kingdom’ being fought over was the Heaven of God’s glory. The enemy, the archenemy, the only enemy, was Lucifer. The weapons Jesuits used were supernatural: the Sacraments, preaching, writing, suffering. The objective was spiritual, supernatural, and otherworldly …
The renewed Jesuit mission debased this Ignatian ideal of the Jesuits. The ‘Kingdom’ being fought over was the ‘Kingdom’ everyone fights over and always has: material well-being.
The enemy was now economic, political, and social: the secular system called democratic and economic capitalism.
The objective was material: to uproot poverty and injustice, which were caused by capitalism, and the betterment of the millions who suffered want and injustice from that capitalism. The weapons to be used now were those of social agitation, labor relations, sociopolitical movements, government offices …”
What Martin sums up here in precis, he then unfolds in erudite detail throughout the book – including the kind of detail only an insider, that is to say a former Jesuit himself would know.
Added to this picture of the transformed spirit of Jesuitism, is also – as we noted before – a dark picture of how that spirit has declared covert war on the Papacy … As disturbing as all this is, it forms required reading I think, for anyone who genuinely wants to get to grips with the crisis in the Church today.

For another review click here:

Delia said...

No, Father, I think it was another J, the one who received me. I distinctly remember him talking of someone (just one? But an agent anyway) entering the Jesuit noviciate and going all through the 12 years. May have been abroad somewhere. However, I may have got it wrong, of course, or Fr may have! But after poisoned umbrellas nothing would surprise me.

Physiocrat said...


The issue is not what instrument you play or what music you sing, but that it can get in the way of other people's worship.

A guitar is not a suitable instrument for a large space such as a church, unless the sound is amplified, and if the sound system is not of a high quality it will sound horrible.

But organists can cause plenty of trouble as well. Ours has the habit of starting Mass with a fanfare which would be a suitable introduction to a procession of circus elephants. He then improvises discordantly in the low bass during the distribution of communion. The sound is reminiscent of a World War 2 bomber. It so happens that I was born in 1941, and from the time I was conceived until 1942 this sound was a regular and unwelcome background to life. Following a direct hit 100 yards from where we lived, the family moved away from London and went to live in a remote part of Scotland. However, seventy years later, this and similar sounds trigger an automatic sensation of fear. Consequently I have had to avoid going to Masses where this organist is liable to be playing.

It is from considerations like this that the church, in its wisdom, laid down precise requirements as to what should happen during the liturgy, which it is obligatory for Catholics to attend.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Jane: May I suggest you attend the Day with Mary at Arundel Cathedral next Saturday 17th August. The people who attend this are usually about 75% African ladies singing hymns in both Latin and English. I would be fascinated to know what you make of it. The dresses alone are worth seeing!

The Lord’s descent into the underworld

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