07Jun

How do we get out of this mess?

The Western church is in crisis, struggling to both evangelise and retain her members. The reasons are complex but the most obvious problem is the rise of modernism, a new form of Gnosticism, which manifests as theological liberalism; encouraging the faithful to lose confidence in the historic and objective Christian truths in favour of a subjective interpretation of faith, imparted by “experts” -who consider only themselves progressive and enlightened- and in vogue with the secular consensus.

The church battling heresy is not new. Heresy has ever existed and is akin to a spiritual cancer that attacks the body of Christ- the church. How effective a heresy proves to be depends largely on the spiritual health of the church at the given moment; if the church is in good health, and the people united by a shared proclamation of truth, heresy is soon quashed. But when faith is flagging then heresy takes root, dividing the faithful and causing confusion and error. It is then that heroic saints and martyrs tend to arise to lead souls back to Christ. Thank God- the devil may win the odd battle but the overall victory is Christ’s.

For the first 1000 years of church history confusion centred on the nature of God. Was Jesus fully divine? Was Jesus really human? Does the Spirit proceed from Father and Son or just from the Father? Was Mary Virgin or not? As each heresy was defeated teaching on the nature of God was settled. Today hardly anybody gets vexed by these issues what tends to divide people instead, and raise the ire of the non-Christian world, and cause widespread confusion, are issues relating to the nature of man…the devil has switched bait!

Is every person really an embodied soul precious to God or are we just clumps of cells that can be ripped from the womb if inconvenient? Are we really created male and female by God or can we choose a gender for ourselves? Was marriage really ordained as the lifelong union between one man and one woman in the interest of children or can we re-invent it to indulge adult wants and desires? Are chastity, continence and celibacy virtues worth pursuing or can we  delight in sex as recreation? And so on and so forth. Always the hot button issues centre on anthropological understanding.

The church will only overcome the present crisis, and settle understanding on the nature of man, by defeating the modernist heresy of our day. In pursuit of this sacred task there is a pressing need for a new generation of saints. A people willing and able to resist temptation, to stand by the Gospel and not count the cost. Winning arguments will not be enough, for without love we are but clanging cymbals competing in a world already deafened by the cacophony of competing ideologies and agendas. What is needed is the witness and proof of authentic holiness-  a life lived for God. Only better bishops, better priests and better laity will help us sort out the mess. So how do we get them?

Over the next few blog posts I want to reflect on these vocations separately; bishop, priest and laity. Asking where the present models are failing and how they might be honed and improved. Watch this space….

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12 thoughts on “How do we get out of this mess?

  1. Thank you Father for addressing this critical issue. The modernists destroying the Church have been active for around 100 years but have come into the open using VAT 2 as cover for protestanisation of the Church beginning with the liturgy and then reordering the church buildings to undermine the belief in the Real Presence and the Sacrifice of the Mass – ie two main planks of protestant heresy.
    We must regain the ancient liturgy and introduce discipline into the hierarchy, installing bishops who will defend the faith and lead the people unlike the majority in the Church today.
    God bless,

    Patrick.

      1. So shall we just sing another chorus, wave off another generation of young people to university never to be seen again and turn the lights off when we leave?
        Or maybe we need to keep raising what is a very serious issue and attempt to address it in the hope of helping turn this crisis around?
        Happy to hear other ideas. What is your solution? What are you and MV doing?

        1. Father everyone is aware of your concerns. but the issue of modernism and the damage you (probably quite rightly) see it is inflicting on the Church is now virtually the sole topic of your blog. You are starting to look monomaniac.

  2. Father,
    You do appear to be returning to your hobby horse. I well remember the pre Vat2 church and I can tell you that it was not without its faults. We Catholics lived in a kind of spiritual ghetto with a siege mentality. We were discouraged from having non- catholic friends and certainly from having non-catholic romantic attachments which could lead to the tragedy of a mixed marriage.
    We needed permission from the parish priest to attend non-catholic weddings and were told on no account to join in any prayers, even the Our Father.
    In those days the priest’s word was law.
    Pope John opened a window on to the world and changed the church from an inward-looking, self-deferential enclave into an outward facing, less judgmental and more tolerant institution. After Vat2 the laity were no longer treated as children and became adults in the faith.
    If the church’s engagement with the world and Catholics now thinking for themselves and using their consciences, has been partly responsible, among other things, for the rise of what you refer to as modernism, what then is the solution?
    It will be impossible to restore a rigid, unbending mentality in today’s world. As you say, the kind of issues that caused problems in the past tended to be theological. What the church faces today is a situation where people can no longer accept being told to live their lives in quiet desperation. Marriages do break down, some people are gay, some do not want a child every year and they no longer see why they should be penalised for it. Most rational people do not consider these issues to be deserving of eternal damnation. There are much greater and more serious transgressions which are often committed by pillars of the church
    Who may stick to a rigid moral code, but who are often lacking in love, compassion and understanding.

    1. You are absolutely right, David, to say that “the pre Vat2 church… was not without its faults.” Well before the 1960s children were being physically and psychologically abused by Catholic priests, nuns and brothers. (My own father was a victim as a boy in Ireland in the 1920s/1930s.) Well before the 1960s Catholic nuns in Ireland and Spain were trafficking babies for profit (https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/the-baby-black-market-1.1847804) and dumping the bodies of dead children in unmarked graves, including 800 in a septic tank in Tuam (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/mar/07/catholic-church-children-buried-at-tuam-ireland). And well before the 1960s John Charles McQuaid, Archibishop of Dublin, took it upon himself to decree that any Catholic who attended Trinity College Dublin would be committing a mortal sin, would burn for all eternity as a result of choosing a higher education institution that did not meet with his approval – what arrogance.

      As you say, David there were indeed “much greater and more serious transgressions… often committed by pillars of the church”. I sometimes think that those ‘traditional Catholics’ who tend to decry just about everything that has happened both inside and outside the Church since about 1962 are expressing a sort of cultural and spiritual Luddism rather than any authentic piety.

      1. Terry I am very sorry to hear about the harrowing experiences of your family members. But to suggest the issue here was anything to do with Vatican II or what came before is just silly. Vatican II did not improve child safety but many of the changing attitudes in the last century. Which is why secular children homes of the same era were just as bleak, abusive and unforgiving places, often worse in fact, than the Catholic run institutions.
        As for the bodies in the sceptic tank story- that was also very skewed. What was excavated was an area next to a home where children were known to be buried. All of whom died of natural causes not uncommon then. There simply weren’t good records to show it all. It certainly was not a mass murder scene. http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/s4036355.htm

        So lets agree that sin and corruption exist in every age due to the fall of man. Then ask if Vatican II has encouraged greater or lesser faith, greater or lesser vocations, greater or lesser piety in the home, greater or lesser confessions etc etc… that is what matters. And on that score it does not score well. Hence I call out not for a return to pre VII era but a reform of the reform.

  3. Father,

    During the obvious reign of Benedict XVI, the trend had begun to reverse itself. Vocations were solidly on the rise. The number of souls in the pews began to climb however slightly but steadily. Then there came a resounding crash that began in 2013.

    The answer to this is obvious. Pray Psalm 108:8 (D-R). Pray it confidently. Pray it constantly.

  4. Why would anyone go to Mass? We hear endless sermons about love and mercy, sing outdated tunes and are bossed about by parish elite (usually women of a certain age). Churches are without beauty and whenever “youth” Masses take place we seem to have worship songs sung badly. No wonder people go to HTB and pentecostal churches where young people are treated as adults and can hear sermons on marriage, evangelism, how to pray etc and where there are house groups to join.

    The Catholic Church needs to preach the Gospel with integrity, have house groups for meals, rosary etc and to plan each Mass so it is beautiful and inspiring.

    1. Gjiyy7866 – Come off it & get real!

      If it’s a straightforward choice between ritual, accompanied by choir, organ, Latin ..and ancient tradition – as against your Pentecostal “ijeets”, gabbing away in deranged ‘tongues’, whilst an Ed Sheeran strums away – (or else ‘happy-clapping/tree-hugging’ everybody), I know where I stand on the question!

      Give me Bach brother, oh yeah: Praise the Lord!

  5. Do not concern yourself with the Church of Christ. God is in control of Everything. The unity of the Church will come from above, not from man. Satan has done an excellent job of attacking the Church over the past 100 years, but only because he was allowed to. The scourge of the present apostasy was foreseen from eternity, God is in charge. What is needed as a cure is what will happen at the appointed time, namely the conversion of the inhabitants of earth who’s hearts are not completely turned to stone. How many will go forward to the New Heaven and the New Earth…. one third. Two thirds of His Church will desert Him at the End of Time. Only those who love our Lord more that they love their own life will be fit for His Kingdom on Earth. Anyone who loses their life for Me will gain it…….. Everything wrong with the Church of Christ can be cured by conversion, the conversion from the hierarchy down, but who is really willing to give their life up completely for Christ? I fear at best one in three. Christ came to the earth with His call to conversion. Only in conversion can we be saved.

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