Thursday, May 14, 2015

IS THERE GOOD NEWS IN THE STATISTICS CONCERNING THE "NONES?" YES, A SMALLER BUT MORE FAITHFUL CHURCH


I'm not particularly in favor of smaller churches (although as I get older, it looks better and better). I am in favor of faithful parishes, large or small.

So there is some good news in that stinking "Pew" research coming from some commentators. It appears that the Catholic Church is losing its "cultural Catholics" those who once came to Church, identified as Catholics but did not and do not believe as Catholics especially in some core dogmatic and moral areas of Church teaching. It is more likely today that Catholics who don't really believe (usually liberal Catholics who want the Church to conform to their beliefs or the prevailing trends and fads of the culture as promoted by secularism or the immoral media) will no longer even claim to be Catholic. They will claim to be "nones."

The New York Times Ross Douthat writes the following:

"Since cultural Christianity has weakened, the “social desirability bias” driving people to tell pollsters they’re churchgoers should be weakening apace as well. So it’s unlikely that the Pew numbers on reported attendance are masking a major plunge: Instead, what’s happening is that American Christianity is losing more and more of its penumbra while retaining more of its core (albeit an aging core, in many cases) than trends in identification alone suggest."

Let me use some anecdotal evidence. Bibb County which is the county in which Macon, Georgia is located has lost about 10,000 people over the last 10 years to what many would call "white flight".

The basic problem is our public schools, many of which are way below standards. Many industries have shut down and no new ones on a major level have come to replace them. Whites are departing for counties with good public schools or moving to Atlanta or out of the state all together for better jobs and education. 

I would estimate that we have lost about 600 to 800 households, but many of these to the death of our aging parishioners, in fact a huge number. But the fact remains that there are very few new Catholics moving to Macon from elsewhere to offset deaths and those who have moved away.

Of course there are those who have left the parish or the Church. Many despise me and have either gone to other parishes or have actually become honest enough to recognize they are Protestants at heart and have joined or rejoined a Protestant denomination. 

The liberal Catholics (always a recipe for leaving the true Church) have become "nones" but with some still considering themselves cultural Catholics. 

But in  that 10 year period we have seen an increase in the commitment to the Church of those who are faithful and remain Catholic and are a contradiction to the prevailing godless, unCatholic culture. 

The manner in which the Liturgy is now celebrated with attention to detail and reverence as well as the addition of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass is helping to form strong, faithful Catholics who don't want to be Protestants or Nones! Those who want to be more Protestant or Nones are following their desires out of the parish and the true Church. 

Our offertory while plateauing is still strong and has increased dramatically in the last 10 years coupled with two Capital Campaigns that have raised over $10 million! In fact the plateauing of the offertory also can be attributed to faithful parishioners paying off their pledges. 

Fidelity! Fidelity! Fidelity! Repentance! Repentance! Repentance! Confession! Confession! Confession! Worthy Holy Communions! Worthy Holy Communions! Worthy Holy Communions! A smaller but more faithful Church will be a "sign of contradiction" and a real leven in a corrupt Church and world!    

43 comments:

Dialogue said...

Fr. McDonald,

About what percentage of your parish is Hispanic? Hispanics account for much of the growth of Catholic parishes and dioceses around the country.

qwikness said...

Macon-Bibb's school problem is also the many private schools. There are at least seven private schools. Plus a couple of charter schools. This sucks all the good students out of the public schools making them even less attractive. The surrounding counties don't have any private schools but Maconites are moving there, leaving even less good students at public school.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Very very few as the parish next to mine, a non-geographical parish founded for African Americans and only 2 miles from here has a very highly developed and great ministry to our Hispanics who are mostly Mexicans.

Lefebvrian said...

One problem in the present times, which has been a problem in the past as well, is that those "cultural Catholics" who don't actually believe the faith make up a significant portion of the clergy and bishops. So there is a cyclical effect going on here where the faithless clergy and bishops lead the laity into non-faith and then those laity become faithless clergy and bishops, &c.

Dialogue said...

There are two pastoral arguments competing with each other over the present situation.

The first argument is in favor of keeping as many Catholics as possible connected, even just marginally, to the Church, thus retaining an apparent strength-in-numbers within a civilization that is increasingly disdainful of religion.

The second argument is in favor of limiting Church membership to those who are faithful to the doctrines and practices of the Church, thus providing a more attractive and convincing message to the rest of the world.

Anonymous said...

I think we would be naïve to dismiss the factor of race when it comes to lack of growth in Bibb County/Macon, much as is the case of Richmond County/Augusta. There seems to be some distrust among white and black politicians in Macon (which came up with the Bibb/Macon consolidation a year or so ago). In fact, Houston County to the south of Bibb may surpass Bibb in the next (2020) census. In 1970, Bibb had about 143,000 people, Houston 63,000; but in the 2010 census, Bibb was only up to 155,000 and Houston had leaped to 140,000. And Father, you would know growing up in Augusta, a lot of whites have left Richmond County for adjoining Columbia County---to the point Richmond County/Augusta is now majority-black in population. I doubt they were leaving for Columbia primarily because they did not like their parish.

The Atlanta are, up here from where I write, has what we call the I-20 divide (Interstate 20)---mostly white north of there, mostly black south of that highway. Unsurprisingly, the Catholic population in metro Atlanta north of I-2O is far higher than south of there.

The city of Atlanta has several top-notch private high schools, while the public school system is about 90% black. And the widely publicized Atlanta school-cheating scandal did not help matters.

I would say most of the Catholic churches up here, except some in the inner city, are growing---the cathedral parish (Christ the King) claims over 10,000 members. But you would probably consider a lot of the parishes up here more "liberal" than yours. There are few churches with altar rails, but lots of female altar servers and Eucharistic ministers. Have never heard anyway at my parish up here complaining about those trends.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

You are correct about Augusta/Richmond County and Columbia County when compared to Macon/Bibb and Houston County--there is white flight and distrust amongst politicians and constituents.

What is in Augusta's favor is that Columbia County growth is in close proximity to Richmond County where as the growth in Houston County is 20 miles and more away from downtown Macon.

Columbia County's growth helps the metro Augusta area to truly be a metropolitan area (combined with the South Carolina side of things in Aiken County.)

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I'm not really in favor of limiting Church membership to the pure only or we would lose everyone. I do think that those on the periphery of the Church and what she believes were respectful and did not have an agenda to change the Church. They were cultural Catholics and would die Catholic and wanted their children baptized, confirmed and making their First HOly Communion. They wanted Catholic weddings and funerals. I think I can live with that kind of Catholic and hopefully they might be moved by the Holy Spirit to deepen their Catholicism. I am sure that occurred too.

I think periphery Catholics felt more at home in the pre-Vatican II Church since there was no social expectation that one receive Holy Communion each time one went to Mass. I think cultural Catholics understood sin and did not tempt God by going to Holy Communion although they would go to Mass regularly. I'd like to see a return of cultural Catholics who don't believe what the Church teaches but doing so not to change the Church to their unbelief and allowing them to feel perfectly comfortable not receiving Holy Communion--no stigma remaining in your pew while everyone else receives.

SGT gobshite said...

All of this doesn't sound much like going forth and making disciples of all nations, baptizing them etc.....etc. Sounds more like making disciples of a few, select white folks... a nice country club made up of "our kinds of people"...from our kind of neighborhood.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Are you saying Sargent that we should post armed guards at the Church to keep those who don't want to be Catholic anymore from leaving?

We can't control people like sargents are prone to do.

However, I do appreciate the Church's sure and certain belief that once a Catholic always a Catholic even if one renounces being a Catholic formally or informally.

SGT gobshite said...

It's Sergeant, please.

I'm saying that it sounds as if many traditionalists are quite comfortable with the idea of just hanging out with their own small group of like minded Catholics who all say "Gimme that old time religion".

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Shouldn't we, Sergeant, expect Catholics to be Catholic and admonish the sinner when he sins?

Again, at my parish and most others that I know of, no one is asked to present their orthodoxy ID at the doors of the Church and unless one is half naked or falling down drunk, no one is asked to leave.

So I am not sure what your point is about the nones who have chosen through their own free will to depart the Church and traditionalists wanting only pure people in their parishes. I've never experienced that before. Have you?

PFC gobshite said...

It's very clear that "admonishing the sinner" is one of the favorite pastimes here.

I'll try one last time...Do you really believe that, as you said above, a smaller but more faithful church is good news? Should that be our goal, rather than trying to spread the faith?

Lefebvrian said...

It is patently false to assert that "Traditionalists" are insular and are not conducting missionary work. The entire edifice of "Traditionalism" is missionary focused on those in the Novus Ordo and those in lesser developed countries and those who have departed from the faith altogether in the developed world.

For my part, I have no home parish, so every time I go to Mass, I am a visitor. My orthodoxy is never checked at the door. In fact, people and priests are always very friendly whether I am attending the diocesan TLM, FSSP, SSPX, or ICRSS. With that said, Traditionalists take the faith seriously, so there are posted dress codes at some chapels (and veils for women to borrow) and the people do not talk in church before or after Mass (of course most are busy standing in the very long lines for confession). These things don't make the chapel insular, they make the chapel Catholic... This is what Catholics do.

Anonymous said...

Father, I hate to "pick" on my dad's hometown of Augusta, but from a few days at the Masters this year, the city seems to be showing its age...Washington Road in front of Augusta National has dirt patches along it, storefronts which have seen better days, and Wrightsboro Road west of Daniel Field looks increasingly abandoned and shabby. Richmond County grew by less than 1,000 between 2000-2010. The move westward into Columbia County and eastward into Aiken County looks unstoppable...years ago I suspect the closure of Sacred Heart in downtown Augusta had something if not a lot to do with the westward movement toward the Hill (St. Marys)---simply not enough of a Catholic population there to sustain St. Marys on the Hill, Sacred Heart, the old St. Patricks (now Holy Trinity) and Immaculate Conception.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

PFC, didn't your Sargent tell you admonishing the sinner is a spiritual work of mercy and a part of evangelizing?

We evangelize with the truth, we don't prosyltize and certainly not in a heterodox way, that would be useless.

Most parishes have RCIA. Our very orthodox RCIA team helped almost 30 people to become Cathplic. Their conversions obvious and a new way of life in Chyift for them! Do you know of traditional, orthodox parishes without RCIA?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

All you write is true. They don't call Augusta Disgusta for no reason. However Columbia County still views itself as Augusta and it truly is a suburb of Augusta whereas Houston County is not in any way considered a suburb of Macon.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Used iPhone to post some comments and spell check strikes again in some of the spelling!

Anonymous said...

I believe that the Pew report provides some evidence that helps us to chart a path for the way forward. We’ve tried to accommodate those who feel they don’t want to be inconvenienced by their faith. Too much Jesus is a little embarrassing for them and doesn’t offer any tangible benefits in this world. They don’t see and maybe are unable to correlate their own personal happiness with a strong relationship with Christ. The world offers them immediate satisfaction and corrupt leaders who push the redefinition of what is and isn’t immoral comforts them to feel secure in their own personal choices. They have determined that life without the Church comes at no cost and allows them a little more time to sleep or play golf on Sundays.

To modernize Church liturgy, structures and dogma is without a doubt the absolute wrong way to go. The Pew data help us understand that. Would we be any better off today in terms of absolute numbers without the modernization movement? Maybe not, but the people who desire an enduring Catholic Faith have had to suffer from the experimentation that has accomplished nothing good. During this liberal testing phase, those who have left the Church because of Her rigidity likely are equal to those who could have been saved by a stronger presence of the Holy Spirit working through faithful clergy.

The way forward is no compromise. Make the Church unequivocally Catholic and leave it at that. The trend the Pew survey identifies what we know is not new. Europe has been in this decline for centuries. We are still healing from the Reformation which gave birth to the French Revolution, Bolshevik Revolution, WW2, Sexual Revolution and Vatican 2. Is it possible that our world continues for millennia longer? If it does then this time period will become a case study for future generations who are happy to follow Christ’s teachings under the one Holy Catholic Apostolic Church.

Mike

Lefebvrian said...

Fr. McDonald, no traditional chapel has RCIA (with the exception of the dual rite parishes run by Novus Ordo priests). In traditional chapels, the priests instruct converts, leading them into the Church.

Dialogue said...

Shite,

Please cite even just one single instance when anyone in the history of this blog has ever said that we should not spread the Faith. And, how exactly does having heretics, schismatics and apostates in the Church help to spread the Faith?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

My own experience in the Church is that those who are most committed to the Church and her Faith are the ones most willing to evangelize (not proselytize). Those who are lukewarm, confused or simply don't believe what the Church believes and teaches to be revealed by God are less effective and just as wishy-washy about spreading the faith as someone with no faith.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I know the pre-Vatican II means of a convert class held by the pastor or other priests in a parish. Usually it was simply a six week course and then they were received into the Church apart from the ancient rites of the catechumenate which Vatican II asked to be recovered. I find it odd that the EF Mass refers to the Liturgy of the Word as the Mass of Catechumens and the Liturgy of the Eucharist as the Mass of the Faithful, but most EF people today or pre-VAtican II would have been clueless about the reasons for it and how it could become the norm in the present as is recovered by the RCIA in the Ordinary Form.

But just when did a priest baptize adults and give them their First Holy Communion? I don't recall this happening in public or made public in pre-Vatican II times apart from adults who would be confirmed by the bishop.

How is it done in FSSP parishes in complete communion with their local bishop and Rome?

Lefebvrian said...

It is unsuportable to claim that most "EF people today and pre-VCII people" didn't know why the first half of the Mass is called the Mass of the Catechumens. What makes you have this opinion?

It makes sense for the first half of the Mass to be called the Mass of the Catechumens since it involves the uninitiated offering what they have received -- the very word of God through the ministers who read the sacred texts in the sacred language in the sanctuary. In fact, this is one of the reasons why the readings are always said in Latin by the appropriate ministers. And, then, of course, the Mass of the Faithful is also aptly named.

Anyway, priests baptize adults when they are ready to be received. There is also a place in the Easter Vigil for this to take place -- I personally haven't witnessed that happen, though. Others are confessed and communed, or possibly conditionally baptized in accordance with the normal pre-VCII practice.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I know people were baptized or conditionally so and made their First Holy Communion, but it seems to be it was through the backdoor or at a daily Mass. I don't think it ever took place on Sunday and I don't think it took place at the Easter Vigil which would have been in the morning, but I might be wrong.

I do recall as a 4th grader when I was confirmed (in the evening and thus it was not Mass but Benediction) that adults who have been received into the Church were confirmed. That was the first time I realized adults could be converts.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Also why EF people would understand the Mass of the Catchumens and Mass of the Faith is a later and very false theologically and doctrinally description as though the Faithful at the Liturgy of the Word are still catechumens. They aren't they are the Faithful. Catechumens are unbaptized people.

The names for these parts of the Mass come precisely from the ancient Church which had rites for the unbaptized which were subsequently suppressed or lost.

The unbaptized could attend the Mass of the catechumens but would have been dismissed for the Mass of the Faithful since they weren't consider Faithful, but still pagans or unbaptized.

Vatican II recovered why the two parts of the pre-Vatican II Mass had these names and then ironically subsequent reforms changed it to the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Ironic indeed.

Lefebvrian said...

Are you saying that the description I have of the theological understanding of the Mass of the Cstechumens is false?

Do you see it as a problem that adult converts do not get some major public ceremony on a Sunday or at Easter?

Why do you think it was important for the Church to "recover" an aspect of the liturgical practice that had fallen into disuse over the centuries?

Is it the case that catechumens are dismissed at the Novus Ordo?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Yes, if you are saying that the faithful attending the Mass of Catechumens are catechumens, you are wrong. Catchumens are unbaptized people. The faithful are normally fully initiated Catholics. I have no problem with the term Mass of the Catechumens as it designates a historical reality that the unbaptized preparing to be baptized would have received instruction during this part of the Mass.

I find it odd and a corruption of the manner in which adults are received into the Church to do so behind the scenes and secretly. Reception into the Church and the reception of First Holy Communion should be public events as First Holy Communion and Confirmation are for children in pre-Vatican II times.

The problem with neo-traditionalists is that they wish to freeze history even when the history that is frozen is corruption. There is nothing wrong with a recovery of the RCIA rites even for the Extraordinary Form.

I'm in favor of the recovery of the sub diacoante and other minor orders that were suppressed by Paul VI. It was wrong to do this as it is wrong to think a recovery of the RCIA is wrong after having been suppressed or fallen into disuse.

Yes, true catechumens, those not baptized may be dismissed from the Mass of the Catehcumens, Liturgy of the Word prior to the recitation/chanting of the Credo.

Dialogue said...

VCII only offers two sentences about the adult catechumenate: "The catechumenate for adults, comprising several distinct steps, is to be restored and to be taken into use at the discretion of the local ordinary. By this means, the time of the catechumenate, which is intended as a period of suitable instruction, may be sanctified by sacred rites to be celebrated at successive intervals of time."

Dialogue said...

Thank you for the reply about the Hispanics. I don't doubt that things are going well for them at that parish, but as a Southerner, I cringe a little whenever I hear another Southerner talk about how happy a minority group is being off on their own.

LT gobshite said...

Though I feel sure I won't get it, I'm trying for a one word answer....yes or no. The question is: Is it your position that "Yes, a smaller but more faithful church" is "good news"?

Or would you like to reconsider your opening statement?

Lefebvrian said...

I never said that the faithful attending the Mass of the Catechumens are catechumens, and I’m not really sure how you would have gotten that impression. Catechumens, as unbaptized people, are not initiated in the Church so they cannot offer the Perfect Sacrifice that the Church offers in the Mass of the Faithful. They can, however, participate in offering the Mass of the Catechumens, wherein the word of God is offered back to God through the readings, which are read in the Sanctuary in the sacred language.

There is a parallel here of some significance: the Mass of the Catechumens involves the word being offered to God in Latin and then the dispensing of the word to the people through the priest’s sermon on some topic. In the same way, the Holy Sacrifice is offered in the Mass of the Faithful, and then the Word of God is dispensed to the faithful in Holy Communion.

There is nothing secret about the way converts are received. They are received in the Church, and they received Holy Communion in the Church. What is secret here?

You seem to be under the impression that RCIA has been “recovered.” I don’t think there is any evidence to support that idea – there is, however, a magisterial warning against the sort of archaeologism that brings back liturgical practices that have organically fallen into disuse over time. Anyway, that is beside the point because the fact is that adults need some sort of catechesis before being received into the Church. This is the job of the priest, who has been given the training for this task. Whether you call it RCIA or whatever is really of no importance. It seems, though, that calling it RCIA gives many priests a reason not to handle the instruction of adults themselves – I happen to think this is rooted in a fundamentally flawed understanding that Novus Ordo priests have of the priesthood, but that’s a topic for another day.

Since I do not attend the Novus Ordo, I will take your word for it that catechumens are dismissed at the Novus Ordo. Do you dismiss the adults who have been baptized outside the Catholic Church as well? If so, what’s your justification for that since they are not catechumens?

I would also add that, since there are blessings and graces that come from being present for the Holy Sacrifice, it doesn’t make much sense to send the people away and deprive them of those graces of conversion when they are in most need of them. In our times we are no longer in the catacombs and, at this point, are not trying to keep our rituals secret, which was the justification for dismissing the catechumens in the ancient Church.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

When 90% of Catholics prior to Vatican II were attending Mass on any given Sunday was the norm, this was/is wonderful even though a significant number of those Catholics might have been cultural Catholics and not in full agreement with the Church. But there was a difference, they understood themselves to be sinners and would not present themselves for Holy Communion if in a state of mortal sin as the Church objectively teaches this. They would not have presumed a subjective approach to the Faith.

Today, there are Catholics who defy the Church and her magisterium and want to make the Church in their gnostic image as though they have it right and the Magisterium wrong. They are public with their discontent.

I think it a good thing when Catholics who have actually left the Church and have no intention of repenting or agreeing with the Church make their position clear--this is honesty.

Yet, the Church teaches their honesty and separation from the Church if done with full consent of the will will lead to their damnation. Why does the Church say this, to make them think again and return.

If I had a parish where a goodly faction was fighting against me, I would welcome their departure.

Who needs that?

But you question phrased as it is, is a trap and you know it. I've made my position abundantly clear without a yes or no answer and Christ would have done to confound his critics.

gob said...

Once again, this will be recorded as "declined to answer".

Flavius Hesychius said...

I'm fairly certain the division between 'Mass of the Catechumens' and 'Mass of the Faithful' is a historical division.

At least, in the Orthodox Church, historically the non-baptised were dismissed after the Gospel/homily. During the Divine Liturgy, the priest says 'Catechumens depart', at which point everyone unable to receive the Eucharist departed.

Paul said...

There is only one Church.

The number of stewards and lay are up to the stewards and lay.

Being a member of Christ's Church is no guarantee of anything.

Do what God asks in the hope of Heaven.

We want everyone in Heaven.

Some refuse God's invitation.

Who are the ones knocking on my door? Protestant Hispanic evangelicals some of who claim to be "former Catholic". Why would anyone leave the Church Christ created? Can't lead me to anything better.

Julian Barkin said...

Geez Father don't get hung up with Lefevbrian. Just his or her name alone tells you where they stand on things.

As for this pew study, no surprize there. I realize I sound like a broken record, but a good part of why this is happening is crappy clerical leadership at the hands of bishops and priests of the hippie/post Vat-II generation (late 60's to 80's). Their laxity and heterodoxy in their pastor ship and episcopacy has given general laity no reason to be faithful to Christ, and they have and continue to abuse their authority today. Just locally for example, in my own diocese, I found out that my former Novus Ordo parish, the pastor behind our backs has decided to form his own k of c council. No notice whatsoever to us. My family left his parish btw between Lonergan theology lay leaders preaching heterodoxy, having kids on the altar after the our father at 1st conmunion AT MASS with the rest of the community (no separate 1st communion mass anymore), wanted a "peace garden" with the new renovation despite strong contest by parishioners, etc.

Also, I found out in a blog of mine that a bishop from St Petersburg Florida is killing TLMs from 2 parishes to one, moving the one to what sounds like a "ghetto used" parish for the TLM, one whose primary function is for a Vietnamise community (so basically to bastardize the TLM community, I truly mean no offense to the Vietnamize, rather that more conpeting interests will hopefully "silently" kill the TLM there), and he had nasty, un-Francis like, uncharitable words for those attending the TLM.

So as much as I don't want a smaller church, maybe between the Biological solution and the self-seclusion of the lukewarm Catholics/Nones/heretics to their own little pockets to die off or stay away from poisoning the minds of weaker laity in the whole Body of the church, it might be best overall. Unless the Clergy start truly leading in the Church, expect more to come and devastate us.

Julian Barkin said...

FYI the story about the bishop, +Lynch, doing that to the TLM is here: http://www.onepeterfive.com/bishop-lynch-and-the-dismantling-of-summorum-pontificum/

This might be worthy of a post with commentary Father AJM.

Lefebvrian said...

Well, Julian, I thought Fr. McDonald and I were having an interesting conversation. We were both civil throughout and had a good exchange of ideas from two different perspectives. I enjoyed the discussion, and I hope Fr. McDonald did too.

I know it's uncharacteristic to have a civil discussion on the Internet, but I wouldn't call it "getting hung up."

Julian Barkin said...

Perhaps there was some but between your past conversations and stances here, and once Fr discovered your argumentative trap in the last comment, that pretty much sums up what I needed to see here.

Bee said...

Fr. McD said: "I'm not really in favor of limiting Church membership to the pure only or we would lose everyone. "

Just one anecdote: My brother has been a on again-off again Mass attendee for years. He wasn't really heterodox, but he wasn't much of a faithful Catholic either; a kind of Christmas and Easter Catholic. Always self identified as Catholic.

A few years ago I began praying this prayer for my brother from St. Faustina's diary, Divine Mercy in My Soul (O Blood and Water which pours forth from the heart of Jesus as a fountain of Mercy for us, I trust in you.) in which Jesus promises her that if it is said with contrition on behalf of some "sinner" Our Lord will grant the person the grace of conversion. Not desperately. Just included in my nightly prayers.

Earlier this week in a phone conversation he asked me if I ever did the 33 Days of Consecration to Jesus Through Mary. I admitted I have. He blew me away when he told me he was just finishing it and would do the consecration prayer on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, May 13.

Yes, we need to BE witnesses (in our behavior, in our forgiveness, in our joy, in our hope, and in our tender words) to others, but we should never forget the Holy Spirit can touch the soul where we can not reach. And compassionate prayer for those who are not close to God does bring others close to Him.

BTW, my dad also was affected by this prayer. One year before he died he went to confession for the first time in over 40 years.

Lefebvrian said...

For what it's worth, I didn't intend to set an "argumentative trap." (Even after reading back through the discussion, I'm not sure what you're referring to.) But, I apologize to you, Father, if you perceived that I was and that has caused you to cease this discussion.

Anyway, I'm not trying to hide my stances, which is why I have chosen this moniker when posting here.

jolly jansenist said...

Make the Church Catholic and the marginal types will drift away. Problem solved. It is not a question of either "spreading the Faith" or limiting membership to the devout. It is a question of spreading the true Faith and not some happy clappy feel good pseudo-religious pablum designed to appeal to any theological persuasion or lack thereof. Spread the true faith and the goats and wolves will scatter.