8 points to ponder

Here are eight things I wish Western Christendom would ponder for the sake of its soul and the Gospel.

1: The passion, death and resurrection of the Lord make clear: there is no crown without a cross. So if your faith isn’t leading to self sacrifice and personal struggle…you are doing it wrong. Stop seeking a broad path that, scripture warns, cannot lead to God. It is akin to joining a gym but refusing to break sweat.

2: Liturgy should be focused primarily on God. Hence where it celebrates self or man it is not only indulgent but deadly. Worship should be reverent, sacred and oriented on the divine. So can we leave the Spirit of the 70’s behind us, with all its banal melodies and theologically fuzzy messages? It is beyond time to restore beauty and dignity to the sanctuary. To demand high standards of all. For where this is done- there we witness revival!

3: Doctrine requires clarity. The Western church has invested much time and energy transforming faith, from something radical and demanding into something wet and easy going, with one result; epic failure. A faith overly nuanced and subjective is soon rendered meaningless. Hence data shows that those who liberalise faith are only one step from losing it altogether; their children tend to lapse in great number. Christianity is centred on objective truth not subjective opinion.

4: Seeking cultural relevance is no priority for Christians. We must seek God’s admiration. Not least when the culture around us is degenerate and opposed to our beliefs. “Opening windows to the world” seemed wise to liberal Christians in the 20th Century, they made it the abiding priority, but it proved akin to a submarine opening windows to the sea. Our faith always was counter-cultural so stop watering down moral teaching. Try and live it instead. You cannot be faithful to the teaching of the Gospels and the sexual revolution- no matter how hard you try!

5: Obedience isn’t optional. A pick and mix philosophy is fine for confectioners but  folly for the faithful. So if you claim to be Christian… but don’t accept points X. Y or Z- you delude yourself and make yourself the god! The arbiter of truth. Rejoice then if you disagree with aspects of the teaching but obey anyway; here is proof  you are not about the business of transfering your own image and agenda onto the divine.

6: People are not attracted to weakness. Just look at the reputation of poor old Tim Farron- once he conceded faith to the vox populi!  Contrast that with the respect gained by Rees-Mogg when he stood firm to his theological principles. We need bishops (and priests) who are authentic successors of apostles, like St. Paul, Fulton Sheen, Newman et al, not the effeminate, smooth vanilla businessmen who dominate episcopacy today. Who are so often silent when they should stand up for Christian truth with zeal. Who was it said that every crisis the church endured has been a crisis of bishops?

7: We must look outwards not inwards. Salvation of souls is a priority but urgency has been lost where the claptrap of universalist thinking dominates. Lay ministry has become a buzz word to encourage stealing priestly function for the empowerment of self. When the authentic lay role is not to swan around the sanctuary as a faux priesthood but to go out into the world and preach the good news; to build faith in the home and work place and maintain its voice in the public square. The church is not a club but a mission. So where are the missioners?

8: We cannot be silenced by personal limitations or a desire to be polite. So learn to take risks- to take your faith seriously but your self not seriously at all. Laugh at the pathetic witness you are when you rely on self! Rejoice at how much God achieves when you unite your will to his. And do not let the enormity of the task slow you down. If you start inviting people to church and speaking about faith then you probably wont save the world. But if you save one person- it is worth it. To do the work of evangelism makes a difference and it is time we took that work seriously at every single level of the church.

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13 thoughts on “8 points to ponder

  1. Fr. Ed,

    As you appear to be fighting the same battle in the Catholic Church as you were fighting in the Anglican and you were obviously not attracted to the Catholic Church by its effeminate smooth vanilla hierarchy, perhaps you should give up on western Christendom and embrace Othodoxy.
    After all you could grow an enormous macho beard!

    1. I am fighting the same battle- against modernism- but in a VERY different setting. One in which there exists a magisterium that serves to defend truth and is doing its job. I will not be forced out of the Catholic church for espousing Catholic belief- that would be silly. I shall not be going anywhere. I shall speak for truth.

        1. If you view the C of E as a club then, you are correct, nobody was forced to leave and was free to remain a member of the club. But if you view it as a principled house of faith it is not nearly so clear for it is more akin to a vegetarian restaurant putting meat into its food and claiming it never forced out the vegetarian customers who felt unable to remain with integrity. When the C of E abandoned its biblical faith and began to take on itself the authority to remarry after divorce without recourse to annulment, ordain women, embrace so called “gay marriage” etc… then it effectively forced out anybody who held to the faith of the apostles with integrity. After all the leavers were not the ones who were manifestly about the business of transforming Anglicanism into the modernist, liberal body in which they no longer felt welcome.

  2. On a more serious note I should be interested to hear what you think about a recent comment by the Jesuit Spadaro,’ the pope wants to liberate pastors from the feeling of being at war… by which the church feels enclosed by a society it must fight against’.

  3. I agree with a lot of what you say but point 7 is especially insulting to the laity who do have valid roles and don’t simply “swan around in the sanctuary”. I could say that this sort of clericalism is a similar sort of “self empowerment” that you claim to find in the laity

    1. Thank you Harry. Apologies if I offended – not my purpose here. My intention wasn’t to insult but to challenge. For what is going on when we see a priest sat idle during communion and what purport to be extra-ordinary ministers doing his ordinary work? Too often I visit parishes run by rather bossy laity of a certain age in which emasculated clergy are left servile and fearful and often bullied by threat of brown envelopes. This is not a good model for the church. I think we only need look at the evidence of the last 50 years to see that, where it is normative, you find an emptying of seminaries, loss of vocation and declining elderly congregations. If we strip the sacred priesthood of its distinctiveness- why do we think any young man would want to sign up. To be what? The employee of a Christian club, and at the beck and call of the leadership team, and doing so on a pittance of a stipend in many places?

      Not in all places note-and I am not speaking of the wonderful and important ministry of those who take the sacrament out to the sick and visit. Furthermore we have to ask why so many lay people take up sacramental roles but are not found evangelising effectively- what does this speak of but an inward looking mentality of Christian service?

      Oh and clericalism to my mind is found where we are told clergy must act as “experts” in accompanying people into subjective judgement of moral truths far more than in simply pointing out that the priestly function is to tend the altars from which the more important laity are sent out! In the field hospital the clergy are the chefs- we feed that others may be about the work of spreading the Gospel abroad.

  4. Well said Fr Ed,

    You probably will not be made a Bishop but then that has to be a positive in so many ways! I agree with all your points including the one about the laity. Ministers of the Eucharist are a fraud – Cannon law only allows them to function in extremis so the regular appearances at weekly and daily Mass are invalid and they should consider the gravity of what they are doing. I used to be one but when I realised what the teaching of the Church actually says, not what the local Diocese allows I quickly ended that activity and went back to my rightful place in the pew and reflected upon the sin of pride!
    God Bless to you Fr Ed – I pray that you may become the first Ordinariate Pope in due course. That would make the liberals splutter.

    1. I wouldn’t be against the practice entirely- they are very useful at times and the ministry helpful. It just needs the right emphasis and understanding and needs to be extraordinary not ordinary!

  5. When the Church authorised Extraordinary Ministers of Communion, I think that it had in mind parishes in Africa, where a single priest may be faced with distributing Holy Communion to perhaps 2000 people.

  6. I am a Eucharistic Minister and became one when they were first authorised as our priest had leukemia and could not stand for long periods. That was in Cape Twon many moons ago.

    Now in Johannesburg I only take Holy Communion to the sick and those in hospital…we have 1 priest, 3 deacons and roughly 5 000 attend Mass on a Sunday.

    In my previous parish when we appealed for Eucharistic Ministers to assist with the three hospitals that we served after the 7,00am Mass not one of the Sunday Mass Ministers volunteered! I think Fr E has a point when it comes to management.

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