Thursday, June 5, 2014


I guess I am still shocked that Catholics don't practice their faith, up to more than 80% of them. These are shocking statistics. Normally the majority of this 80% or more who don't practice the Catholic faith still come to Mass at Easter and Christmas and usually a goodly number still want the sacraments for their children, although this is diminishing too. Most who cease practicing the Catholic faith do not join other Christian Churches or other religions. Instead they become "nones." They become secularists. And while the current generation of "nones" who are Catholic bring some moral and ethical principles of the Church with them, their children and their children's children won't.

Even more disheartening is the fact that the 20% who do remain, may or may not accept the Church's teachings on a variety of issues all the way from sexuality and marriage to the very clear social teachings of the Church. Some of the most staunch neo-conservative Catholics reject the Church's social teachings vehemently. Of course this is all part and parcel with cafeteria Catholicism, or the Walmart approach to the Church, the consumer taking some things and choosing not to take other things and returning what they did once consume for a refund. 

Our culture and society is in for a rough ride, so fasten your seat belts. More and more children of parents who are "nones" are caught up in the violence of the internet games they play and even two 12 year old girls can stab 19 times a 12 year old friend of theirs and not feel any remorse. This is a personality disorder of the highest degree, narcissism of our age. They see sex like going to McDonald's and a part of their relationships, casual and undignified.

As it concerns the Catholic Church and those who have left us, although they might still worship with us, isn't the main problem a tremendous loss of the fear of God and the narcissism that accompanies this?

At one time and not too long ago, and in fact still in my memory, it would have been unheard of for Catholics to public dispute the Church in the areas of faith and morals which all Catholics are bound to obedience.

At one time and not to long ago, and in fact still in my memory, Catholics would have understood the consequences of moral disobedience that became public and was flaunted, mortal sin on steroids, bad example given to others and leading them into sin.

At one time, Catholics kept quiet in Church in the presence of the Most Blessed Sacrament. At one time, Catholics would not have turned even to acknowledge their neighbor during Mass, lest the focus be taken away from Christ in His most splendid sacramental presence in the Most Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle. And once Mass began, the focus was on the actions of the Mass. No one got up to go to the bathroom or in any way distract others from prayer and contemplation. (How many people get us each week at some point of the Mass and go to the restroom as though they are in the living room or the movie house?

As a child, I was taught by the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Corondelet never even to look backwards, ever, while in Church, to look forward to Christ and focus on Him and Him alone. Good advice! And my parents warned us to go to the bathroom prior to Mass and not eat or drink anything before Mass because no one left the pew until Mass was over for anything, I mean anything!

Not too long ago, I counseled a disgruntled Catholic on the verge of leaving the Church because of his fixation on Catholics don't live up to what it means to be a Catholic. There are so many inconsistancies he noted between pious Catholics at Mass (or not so pious) and how they live their lives the rest of the week.

I reminded him that as Catholics we are not to look at our neighbor and base our participation in the Church and attendance at Mass on what kind of Catholics they are. We are to focus on the Lord and the Lord only and in that way we will never be scandalized.

What has led to this sorry state of affairs when the horizontal experience of Church becomes so emphasized as some sort of Utopian experience of salvation, that when it fails and people disappoint, many leave the Church disillusioned and scandalized? Why is it that Catholics are now consumers of Catholicism and liturgy rather than participants in God's plan for their conversion and salvation?

And the loss of our popular Catholic piety, devotion and reverence for the Holy Eucharist especially before and after Mass but also during Mass contributes to this.

The loss of these contributes to a loss of the Fear of the Lord amongst Catholics:

1. Standing and receiving Holy Communion in the most casual and irreverent way possible

2. Indiscriminate selection and use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion who in daily life do not accept the Church's moral teachings and maybe not even dogmatic teachings even concerning the Most Holy Eucharist

3. Mass turned into entertainment and feel good antics to accomodate the tastes of the consumers who approach the Church as some kind of Walmart

4. The momentum of prayer begun with the Entrance Chant and greeting disrupted by banal and secular sentiments of "good morning," "how are you," "I'm glad you are here" and the funny one-liners" and then a return to prayer and contemplation with the penitential act. I see this all the time from bishops to priests who celebrate the Mass. They are totally oblivious to how disruptive this is to the momentum of prayer and contemplation that begins when the Mass begins with the Entrance Chant, not their silly one-liners and banal acclamations. 

5. Priests becoming entertainers and welcomers at Mass with their personality  and warmth becoming the most important and when this is lacking some Catholics shop around for something they like better

So this brings me to my conclusion:
10 Advantages of [having Mass] Ad Orientem
1. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is experienced as having a theocentric direction and focus.
2. The faithful are spared the tiresome clerocentrism that has so overtaken the celebration of Holy Mass in the past forty years.
3. It has once again become evident that the Canon of the Mass (Prex Eucharistica) is addressed to the Father, by the priest, in the name of all.
4. The sacrificial character of the Mass is wonderfully expressed and affirmed.
5. Almost imperceptibly one discovers the rightness of praying silently at certain moments, of reciting certain parts of the Mass softly, and of cantillating others.
6. It affords the priest celebrant the boon of a holy modesty.
7. I find myself more and more identified with Christ, Eternal High Priest and Hostia perpetua, in the liturgy of the heavenly sanctuary, beyond the veil, before the Face of the Father.
8. During the Canon of the Mass I am graced with a profound recollection.
9. The people have become more reverent in their demeanour.
10. The entire celebration of Holy Mass has gained in reverence, attention, and devotion.


Gene said...

Has it diminished Catholicism…well, of course it has, duh.

Bill Hobbs said...

You can only make this case if you look at Catholicism in isolation. As any number of sociological studies have shown, religious practice and participation has diminished across the board in the Western Hemisphere. It is faulty logic at best to ignore overall societal trends to promote the belief that this particular liturgical change is the cause of diminished practice amongst Catholics.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Of course the whole premise of the Church since Vatican II is that change, constant change, change for the sake of change is good and we've failed to take into account how devastating this has been for the Catholic Church and the Protestant denomination. It sets up false expectations in our Church and in those Protestant denominations that are democratic, they too lose their identity and become irrelevant. Look at the Episcopal Church! It has just about become Unitarian and people are leaving in droves.

Anonymous said...

Notice the parallels between the "fall" of the Church in the 1960's and the "fall" of the culture at the same time. When the Church falls, so does the culture..

Pater Ignotus said...

Bill - I have often made the case you make - that the "ills" in the Catholic Church are found in other churches, in other organizations, essentially throughout Western societies. They do not originate within the Church.

If the causes of these ills are seen as primarily coming from within the Church, then solutions would, rightly, come from within. But I agree with your diagnosis. What our whole culture is experiencing is what is shaping patterns of belief and worship in our Church and in others, participation in a host of social service organizations, and in almost every aspect of our society.

The culprit is the radical individualism that has become the hallmark of western cultures. Again, Robert Bellah's "Habits of the Heart" is a very good study of this phenomenon.

Oddly enough, today's Hagar the Horrible comic in the Macon Telegraph describes the phenomenon in two frames. In the first, Hagar's son asks, "Dad, how do I know if something is right or wrong?" Hagar answers, "That's easy!" In the second frame, Hagar expands, "When something is good for you... it's right!"

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

You've captured in your brief comment the exact problem which the Church since Vatican II has fomented. Keep in mind I refer to Church as all the baptized, but give special responsibility to the pope and bishops who were to correctly interpret that council and today to recognize where that Council could be adjusted. There was a dramatic shift in the Church's approach to the world, to Protestants,to Jews, to Muslims and other religions and to atheists. Rather than circling the wagons to defend, we went defenseless to them and tried to dialogue with what soon became a false egalitarianism, what Pope Francis speaks against in Thursday morning's homily. Making ourselves more palatable to Protestants and the world, many Catholics just thought, what the heck all religions are alike so what difference does it make being Catholic. The changes in the liturgy tended to confirm this and the loss of traditional piety and reverence often mocked by church people, such as bishops and priests, not to mention religious and catechists undermined the Church, pure and simple and turned many people away and others into fierce individualists. The point is that a weak liturgy, less reverent, not instilling a sense of awe and fear of the Lord as well as Catholics who allow themselves to be taught more by the ideologies of the world rather than Holy Mother Church have led to the state we are.

Only a return to common sense and a bit of the wisdom behind the circling of the wagons of the post Reformation Catholic Church will help us to overcome the malaise as well as a reformed liturgy that recovers its lost reverence and piety and fear of the Lord of the liturgy prior to Vatican II.

Pater Ignotus said...

Good Father - We began uncircling the wagons long before Vatican II. The circling that had occurred was the Church's response to the Reformation and was codified in Trent. It may have been necessary at the time and may have served well for a couple of hundred years - maybe. But as the world shifted in many, many ways, we discovered that what "kept out" the bad guys also kept in the good guys. The dramatic shift in the Church's approach to the world was needed -and needed before the 1960's.

But I think you're still seeing this as essentially a problem OF the Church when, I think, it is a problem for western culture. That's a misdiagnosis which leads to mistaken "treatment" of the ills of the Church.

The origins of the rise of radical individualism have little or nothing to do with changes in the liturgy.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The OF liturgy does not need to be tossed aside for the EF, simply allow for Ad Orientem for the Liturgy of the Eucharist and kneeling for Holy Communion and on the tongue and a "recovered" pre-Vatican II piety of awe and reverence, fear of the Lord and that will go a long way in the Church, meaning, CAtholics, lay and clergy allowing the Church to form us and not the culture.

Whey in the name of God have so many Catholics who are the Church, abandoning the Church's liturgy and teaching for the babble of the current culture?

Cathecisis is part of the problem and needs to be addressed with a recovery of awe, wonder and fear of the Lord at Mass.

Bill Hobbs said...

"...circling the wagons...?" I can't seem to find that in the Gospels. I did read something about "Go to all the ends of the earth..." though.

Anonymous said...

From Pope St. John XXIII's Opening Address to the Second Vatican Council:

"In the daily exercise of our pastoral office, we sometimes have to listen, much to our regret, to voices of persons who, though burning with zeal, are not endowed with too much sense of discretion or measure.

In these modern times they can see nothing but prevarication and ruin. They say that our era, in comparison with past eras, is getting worse, and they behave as
though they had learned nothing from history, which is, none the less, the teacher of life.

They behave as though at the time of former Councils everything was a full triumph for the Christian idea and life and for proper
religious liberty.

We feel we must disagree with those prophets of gloom, who are always forecasting disaster, as though the end of the world were at hand."

And, is "Whey in the name of God" something like Jesus saying "Blessed are the Cheesemakers"?

qwikness said...

I think big part of the problem has been the close tie the Catholic Church in the United States has had with the Democratic Party. The Democrats being the "big tent party" acquired "the huddled masses" of immigrants of Europe. The alignment of the Party and the Church continued to be championed and solidified with Kennedy's rise. Various social issues such as the War on Poverty, Labor and Civil Rights further bolstered the Catholic and Democratic ties. However the Sexual Revolution did great harm particularly with Birth Control, Roe vs. Wade and now the redefinition of Marriage. The Democrats have pulled hard Left on these issues and has brought the Catholics with it. Catholics who go with the Party inevitably have their conscience formed by it. Those who don't go with the Party are left in a lurch because they don't necessarily conform to the Republicans. Their consciences are not properly formed in this no man's land either. They don't know to go to the Church. Their parents have left them the Legacy of the Great Democratic Party, the all inclusive, all loving, kumbaya party. The party that the Church trusted for so long. Secular society teaches the youth and at an early age, thanks to MTV, Will and Grace. The Republicans are still the Big Business, Low tax, Christian Coalition Party.
The Catholic leadership has been silent for so long. Now when they open their mouths it seems hard to take them seriously. We have heard nothing of No to contraception, No to abortion, No to Sin. Now suddenly we hear no to Gay "Marriage"? Where have you been Catholic Church. It may be a little odd hearing the Church saying No to something when we haven't been No to anything.
Today Catholics are going to still be more closely associated to the Democrats than to the Church, especially in the Northeast. That probably won't change. If these people get what they want out of the Democratic Party, what do they need the Church for?
They vote for a guy who promises to feed the poor, house them, give them health care, help women, help minorities, get us out of wars, against torture. They feel good about themselves, they don't need the Church.

We may have forever lost the Democrat Catholics. We certainly don't need align with another Party, lest they make other grave offenses.
Seeing the Church take a stand is a great indicator of a pulse. The liturgical changes have been wide in variance since Vatican 2. The liberal tendencies seemed to coincide with the Liberal politics, even if it wasn't, but it may have been the perception. It is unfortunate that the council occurred at during the Sexual Revolution.
The righting of the ship in terms of Liturgy will, I believe, be a beacon for the orthodoxy of the Church's teaching. It will also signal the righting of Moral issues as well.

John Nolan said...


The OF already allows for ad orientem and when it was introduced Communion was received kneeling, on the tongue and in one kind only. What you can do is:
1. Celebrate all Masses ad orientem.
2. Distribute the Host at the altar rail, moving along it. There is therefore no 'Communion line' as people take their place kneeling at the rail as soon as a place is vacated by the previous communicant. A deacon can assist by appropriating half of the rail.
3. The chalice can be offered (to those who want it) by stationing an EM at either end of the rail(but not too close to it, and preferably a bit further back in the side aisle - certainly not in the sanctuary). In fact, there is no need for lay EMs to be in the sanctuary at all. People then receive the Precious Blood standing.
3. In the OF receiving in the hand is an option. If the communicant has his hands out the server holds the plate under his hands; if not, under the chin. In my experience the very act of kneeling encourages reception on the tongue.

Anonymous said...

"The boon of holy modesty"....I think you're missing the boat on what Pope Francis is saying...trying to do. The three guys on the altar in the picture at the top of the page don't exude "holy modesty". Looks a bit more like the Siegfried and Roy show in Las Vegas. The white tigers will be out shortly.

JBS said...

"[Isn't] the main problem a tremendous loss of the fear of God and the narcissism that accompanies this?" Yes, indeed. Few Catholics are concerned with salvation, their own or that of their neighbors.

"[We] are not to look at our neighbor and base our participation in the Church and attendance at Mass on what kind of Catholics they are. We are to focus on the Lord and the Lord only and in that way we will never be scandalized." Very wise words, Father.

Bill Hobbs, we must guard the Holy Faith like a precious pearl, and resit the devil, who prowls about like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

Bill Hobbs said...

JBS - as one of my former teachers said - don't keep the faith - spread. You may look on it as a pearl of great price to be locked away. I see it as a wedding feast to which we invite others...

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Of course all these cliches are nice one liners, "don't keep the faith, spread it", "circle the wagons, etc" but what is needed today is a huddle to strategize about going away from the huddle (circled wagon) to the world and not be be evangelized by the world (as St. John uses the term) and to keep the faith by spreading the kept faith, not the faith that has been forfeited or exchanged for the secular agenda.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

John Nolan, I know all that but what you describe is a speck in the overall way the Mass is celebrated. We need uniformity with this starting with the Cathedral liturgies on down. Then we will seen change. Right now the only ones doing what is optional are viewed as either pre-Vatican II or eccentrics or both.

Anonymous said...

If there's one problem since 1965 it's been a general social loss of a sense of purpose for Catholic things.

We are creatures of our American Western culture which is informed by the Sexual revolution and the materialist presupposition in 'science' (although there's nothing scientific about presuming reality is just material).

What is our 'daily bread' in terms of media consumption? Most is secular: movies, sitcoms, commercials, music, theater, hobbies, news, magazines, blogs, etc.

Our general culture is dark because culture is based on or orbits whatever it is people ultimately worship as the basis of good and evil.... if you disbelieve in God then Man and man-made utopias will be worshiped as the criteria by which to judge right and wrong and all that hinders the pursuit of 'happiness' so defined will be rejected while all that promises to facilitate happiness will be promoted.

We worship sex, individualistic pleasure (including drugs, bread and circuses), thus as a society we think of nothing of subsidizing a billion dollar sports arena but would freak out with a cathedral! We accept abortion because pregnancy and parenthood was seen as a threat to the idol of individual pleasure. Anything that calls for self-control, discipline, or struggle is avoided, fought, and now called threats to happiness.

So when we go to Church on Sunday for a single hour of "religion" what sense does the Catholic thing have on our lives and presuppositions?

People are waiting to be called. They're waiting for someone to call them, personally, in the name of the Lord and put them to some useful task, some quest that will lead to total human flourishing.

They're also waiting for someone to map out how the Catholic doctrine etc. fits into the big picture and makes sense of life, the universe and everything.

I suspect this is why the WYDs were so beneficial - the Pope called the youth to meet him, preached to them in terms of a personal Lord who had a personal calling for their lives and then challenged them to go back to their homes with a sense of belonging to the Lord and the whole cloud of witnesses (angels, saints, Mary, etc.) to whom they had a relationship and thus identity that is more fulfilling than their relationship to fad, clique, ideology, or secular groups.

The faith is not a program, it's a romance. It's not a matter of externals so much as the internal being made visible.

Gut check time thanks to the Pope: do we believe Jesus is Lord and our joy can be found in Catholic discipleship.... or do we accept the secular sexual revolutionary premise that happiness is found here through material, human devices, a Babel or golden Calf of our own making?

The externals of worship matter, but only to the degree people understand the symbolism and purpose of the ritual and rubrics. After all, prior to Vatican II the Latin rite had the Tridentine rite on all altars but it didn't seem to halt the rise of atheism, communism, socialisms, world wars, modernism, etc.

If the rite reveals the Lord and we discover that all our joy comes only from discipleship in and with Him....then we'll be able to resist the alternative of today's culture with its very powerful enticements

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Amen to that brother! This is good enough to be its own post which it now is!

JBS said...

Bill Hobbs,

You have not merely stated the obvious need to spread the Faith, a demand which no one here has in any remote way denied, but have criticized efforts to protect it. You seem to being saying, repeatedly now, that trying to preserve the Faith uncorrupted by the world is somehow contrary to the Gospel.

Pater Ignotus said...

JBS - I suspect Mr. Hobbs simply disagrees with the efforts you think are needed to protect the Faith.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Yes, and in doing so, Mr. Hobbs may well be the diagnosis for the problem rather than the cure.

JBS said...

Pater Ignotus,

I propose no means of protecting the Faith, but I do accept the means provided by the Church, such as the liturgical tradition, the catechism, the code, and all else she produces by the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

Henry said...

Another example of "the heights to which the Ordinary Form can rise":
Peter Kwasniewski

"if the Oratorian model had been followed everywhere and by all, could anyone seriously maintain that the crisis in the Church and in her liturgy would look as it does today?"

Fr. McDonald, it occurs to me that you might make a good southern orders post out of this article by Kwasniewski, which amplifies and illustrates some of the things John Nolan has been saying, and adds some food for thought about how the OF can be celebrated gloriously.

Bill Hobbs said...

Fr. McDonald,

As I don't see engagement with the world as a problem, I will wear the badge of "diagnosis" with which you tag me. That being said, as anyone who knows me can attest, I am a devoted Catholic who has devoted both my personal and professional life in service of the church. But, I would engage those who misrepresent sociological data or the Gospels. I have no desire to go back to what some on this blog and others portray as the glory days of Catholicism. I do believe our best days are ahead of us...and they will be different than the past that so many longingly pine for. I am working for the Kingdom that is here but not yet, not some historical and cultural artifact. And that's my final word on the matter...

Anonymous said...

Please PLEASE...more John Nolan. Just can't get enough John Nolan.

Anonymous said...

"And once Mass began, the focus was on the actions of the Mass. No one got up to go to the bathroom or in any way distract others from prayer and contemplation. (How many people get us each week at some point of the Mass and go to the restroom as though they are in the living room or the movie house?"

I go to Mass to pray. Growing up post-Vatican II, I had a real epiphany when I finally realized that the Holy Mass is one long sustained PRAYER. But in light of what I quoted above, it is almost impossible at Mass to maintain the focus on the ritual and prayer while people nearby (not to mention children) are acting like they are in the living room, and maybe not so interested in what's on T.V.
I have really struggled with this issue. I mentally complain to Our Lord about it all the time: "I am REALLY trying, Lord, to stay focused on You; to listen and engage with every prayer the priest is praying, and pray along with all my heart. but I am failing due to the lack of attention of those around me. Please forgive me, not only for my distractedness, but for my lack of charity to my neighbor."
And so each Sunday goes.
All I want to do is pray. Why can't I go to Mass and pray?

So, "Has horizontal worship corrupted and diminished Catholocism?" Emphatically, YES!

Gene said...

Now, I see the Pope is encouraging all this charismatic nonsense. Snakes, anyone? I guess this means more reaching for the sky at Mass, holding hands, and hugging.
Let's just get Jimmy Swaggart to Rome and do it right.

John Nolan said...

The good news is that the Oratorians are going from strength to strength in England, and, it would appear, in north America also. London and Birmingham were founded in the 19th century, and Oxford in the 1990s. More recently Oratories have been founded in Manchester and York. I attend the first three fairly regularly, Oxford being the nearest. In 1973 I was just down from university, feeling somewhat depressed by what had happened to the liturgy in less than a decade. I had heard of 'Brompton Oratory' but had never visited it. On a Sunday morning in August I attended the 11 o'clock Mass and was bowled over. Latin, ad orientem at a proper high altar, deacon and subdeacon, chant, faultless ceremonial, beautiful Roman-style vestments, and to cap it all, Haydn's 'Nelson Mass'. And this was the Novus Ordo! Since that day I have regarded the Oratory as my spiritual home.

The high standard of liturgy and music can be maintained because Oratorian communities are exceptionally stable whereas cathedral clergy come and go. Oratorians are not ashamed to be traditional and to celebrate the New Mass 'in the spirit of the Old'. If the diocesan bishop celebrates Mass he does it their way, which nowadays includes resurrected items of the older ceremonial, including deacons at the throne, pontifical dalmatic, bugia bearer and Assistant Priest. And he celebrates in Latin which is the norm for solemn services.

I enjoyed the article on the Vienna Oratory and visited their website. Their article on Quarant'Ore actually shows the altar of the Birmingham Oratory! There was another interesting snippet. Some years ago they removed the central gates from the altar rail (presumably as lip service to the 'spirit of V2') and stored them in the attic. Last month, following a spate of vandalism in Viennese churches they retrieved and rehung the gates as an added security measure. A further reason was to make it easier for elderly communicants to kneel in the middle. Typically Oratorian - find an eminently practical reason for restoring tradition!

Pater Ignotus said...

Bill - And good final words they are. Keep it up!

JBS said...

Bill Hobbs, who apparently has nothing more to say, would do well to study logic and rhetoric. Why do those of his persuasion fear genuine engagement with the ideas of others? Instead, they create offensive caricatures of other's, and then assault these fictions while holding their conversational noses high in the air. Pope Paul VI said dialogue should be the evangelical methodology of our modern age, but dialogue requires logic and basic conversational skills, as well as mutual commitment to engage in it respectfully.

Anon friend said...

JBS, indeed so!
Mr. Hobbs and Pater could honestly be far more convincing if they followed your advice here. As it is, Anonymous 9:48 comments are far more the truth for the us PIPs (Persons In Pews).

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

JBS and Anon Friend, yes indeed so!!!!
It is so obvious! I should also add that JBS's comment was posted at the same time as PI's so neither saw the other before writing theirs.

Henry said...


What a perspicuous summary of the typical stance of spirit of Vatican II progressives! Not having any substantial ideas of their own that even they can defend, they are reduced to confining themselves to attacks on ridiculous straw man caricatures of those they'd like to oppose, but lack the substance to do so effectively.

JBS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Desiree said...

The OF has set the stage for the Church's current chaos. The windows were opened, and a lot of change was able to breeze right on in. No one is regulating. Priests are complaining, but not preaching to the parish.

Speaking of all the chaos since V2, I can't believe how many Catholics are shocked that my family doesn't eat meat on Fridays...all year.

Anonymous said...

"God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of men...."