Monday, December 14, 2015

SMALLER BUT PURER CHURCH OR SMALLER BUT POORER CHURCH?

Pope Benedict was criticized for saying that the Church of the future would be smaller but purer. The criticism was from the perspective that people felt the Holy Father was advocating for a more elitist Church. But in reality, it was just being realistic about the effects of secularism on nominal Catholics or Catholics easily swayed by the trends of society of which secularism is a powerful trend worldwide. In other words he didn't want a smaller Church but acknowledged it was on the horizon.

Pope Francis from the moment of his election as advocated for a poorer Church. Does this mean she will also be a purer Church if the rich don't get their way?

For example, the parish in Charlotte that wants to oust their Orthodox, maybe somewhat rigid new pastor for his restorationist agenda has led people who disapproved of his actions to stop giving. That's the threat today from some parishioners who want to control this, that and the other. If they can't be in control then they won't give. Nice, no?

Prior to Vatican II it was thought quite healthy and holy for Catholics to pray, financially support their parish and the larger Church and to obey the Magisterium in the areas of Faith and Morals.

After Vatican II, there was a push to treat the laity as "adults" rather than "children" and thus what was perfectly evangelical (although that term would not have been used back then) was demeaned as childish: "Pray, Pay and Obey" became the snarky mantra of liberal progressives demanding  adult Catholics  to take their rightful place of power and control in the parish and the Church. If they weren't empowered or given control then they won't pay and maybe not even pray and certainly not obey. Nice, no?

Over the years I have known pastors who have experienced what I have experienced, although infrequently, praise God, where a parishioner would not give because they didn't like, this, that or the other. Sometimes these were rich people who disengaged from the parish financially. Nice, no?

If a rich person thinks praying, paying and obeying are demeaning to them, then maybe we should give them the freedom, encourage them if they have this mentality not to give us their money. We would have to go without it.

This means the parish will be poorer but purer. It wouldn't genuflect to the rich class in the parish if this means relinquishing the legitimate authority of the priesthood.

Pope Francis might be onto something as was Pope Benedict. It isn't easy going from large, mega parishes with rich people ruling the roost to smaller parishes with the poor placed first.

The poor are the one who have been deprived of the Church's true teachings, spirituality, and solemn, reverent worship. The poor are more open to praying, supporting the Church financially and obeying. Blessed are the poor in spirit, the Kingdom of God is theirs.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think a great danger, maybe the greatest, is that those who advocate for a "purer" Church include, almost without exception, themselves among the "purer."

The wise old Irish saying is, "Self praise sucks."

TJM said...

I refuse to give to Peter's Pence or the Archdiocese of Chicago,while Francis and Cupich are in power. I will support orthodox Catholic parishes and orders. I think both men are unmitigated disasters. The Catholic counterparts of Obama.

Paul said...

We are all filthy beasts. We should try to hammer out the impurities but we are all still rotten to the core. What is hoped for in the end is Heaven -- for everyone. Nothing else. If we do not try to help lead souls to Heaven then what's the fuss all about? Not enough room in Heaven? Climate change in Heaven? Too many convicted criminals in Heaven? Not enough food in Heaven?

Guided by the Holy Spirit Christ's Church will be just fine. If the internal, human squabbling concerns filthy lucre then cast the lucre away.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Paul your theology is quite Lutheran or Calvinistic. Catholicism is much more optimistic about the human condition.

JBS said...

Since the majority of Western Catholics reject fundamental elements of Catholic faith and morals, the Church is a weak evangelizer in the West. Everyone who is not Catholic, including potential converts, can see the deliberate lack of integrity that infests the Church. So, it is more effective to have a small Church whose members accept everything the Church teaches, than to have a large Church made up mostly of material heretics.

As for money, I suppose we wouldn't need as much of it if all the lukewarm Catholics would just have the honesty to stop pretending to be Catholic. Macon, for example, might need only one church.

JBS said...

Anonymous,

Surely "purity", in this case, should be defined as acceptance of all the teachings found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Jusadbellum said...

Typically what happens throughout history in predictable cycles is that relative luxury in society (and the Church) breeds complacency and corruption which then leads to subsequent generations being scandalized and then cynical and finally willing to actively persecute religion as either an obstacle to vice or as a source of easy money to solve some economic crisis.

Despoiling the Church of both wealth and means of producing more does remove the luxury and burns away anyone who is in it for the lucre. Unfortunately it tends to be the true believers who hold on and so are caught up in the pogroms and end up hung or shot or tortured while the corrupt souls who precipitated the disaster flee in time to save their hides...

But then the remnant rises - small, poor, and pure IF the Lord is merciful and enough of the people repent. If not then you get a permanent decline in that country's Christian population from which there is no recovery as we're seeing play out in real time in Europe. The Europeans rejected Catholicism for secularity in the 1700s and haven't returned since so now they are contracepting, sterilizing, abortion and euthanizing themselves into oblivion while they do the heretofore unthinkable and import their mortal enemies, the Turks, to keep the machinery of socialism running.

They're already crossed the event horizon. Europe cannot recover demographically unless the next generation of white women commit to having 6+ children apiece and their children each commit to having 6+

So their church will be taken away and given to the Africans and Asians who do accept life as a gift.

Anonymous said...

Jesus came and gathered 12 first: some fishermen, at least one a tax collector. Later there were 72 plus his mother, Lazarus and his sisters, the ones who were healed by him, the woman at the well, even Pilot's wife, the good thief, the soldier in charge of his execution detail, l and many others I can't call by name just now. In time, there were millions. The Church militant, the Church triumphant. It is a big Church and it is just getting bigger until the end of Time. The Church is a mystery. Not all who claim to be in it are, and some who do not even know are in it.

We believe, Jesus left us the Church as he put Peter in charge and promised to be with us "all days, even unto the consummation the world." He never promised all will be easy. He knew there would be wolfs in sheep's clothing, and people with itchy ears ready to be swayed by false prophets, sellers of indulgences, betrayers of the sacraments, even promisers of false mercy and cheap grace. We forget his admonitions to speak boldly when we let false prophets dispute his commandments. We fail to speak to preserve peace in the Church at all cost, or because we replace his words with false ideologies to please the world. Yet Jesus said: "Do not think that I have come to send peace upon the earth; I have come to bring a sword, not peace." I believe, Jesus was what some today derisively call a Fundamentalist.

Jesus had no publicist, yet we all know about Palm Sunday. He lacked a sense of political correctness the money changers wished he had. He handled his questioners telling them to give Cesar what belongs to Cesar and to God what belongs to God. All along he knew that God made everything and everything belonged to the Deity, so Cesar would never get anything at all. Peter seldom had to clean up after him. But he did advise his disciples to say yes if one means yes and no if one means no because everything else is from the Evil One. He would not take bad advice either. Jesus told Peter in no uncertain words to "get behind me, satan...for thou dost not mind the things of God, but those of men." A piece of advice most church leaders should take to heart well when gathering for synods.

Well, the point is, that we need to take Jesus at his words and not try to twist their meaning to accommodate the Zeitgeist. If we do, I believe, the pews and the collection plates will be full once again

gob said...

Poorer, less educated populations...countries tend to be more religious.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

GOB that is why the poor shall be first and the poor confound the wisdom of the world. How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God--you hit the nail on the head!

gob said...

So...it looks like Christianity is growing in Asia, Africa and South America....fading in North America and Eastern Europe... Everybody OK with that? I'm glad I'm not rich. (Eternal salvation....one of the few perks of being poor.)

JBS said...

Gob,

Have have you made that determination?

gob said...

JBS, I guess you mean "How". The answer is that I always do extensive research.

Paul said...

Fr. McDonald, Mary has shown us the snowflakes -- they weren't falling into Heaven. The optimism is the hope for Heaven for everyone, the pessimism is knowing that some fail.

Given the moral relativism running rampant today, it is very easy to become too comfortable with the "new normal".

The season of Advent reminds us that He came to save us all and that a human, Mary said "Yes" to Him. For that I am very grateful and optimistic.

Jusadbellum said...

Gob,

I'm not "for" a smaller, poorer, post-purgative Church even though demographically that's what's coming for Europe and the West in general. Knowing THAT something is likely to happen (given all we know from history and human nature) is very different from WANTING it to happen.

I think that we will live to see a bloody persecution of Catholics in the USA again. I think this for a dozen reasons based on history and human nature and certain processes that seem to happen in every country the generations preceding such bloodletting. I'm against every contributing factor leading up to this bloodletting and do all I can to preclude it or mitigate its effects. If I die at 85 and there's still no government sanctioned purge I'll be a happy man. But I think it rather unlikely that the next 40 years will see no such purge.

Oh to be wrong! Oh to be witness to a 3rd "Great Awakening" and a sudden reversion to the faith by tens of millions of Catholics! Helping Dynamic Catholic, Alpha for Catholics, and a dozen other groups I keep pushing locally and regionally all those initiatives that re-energize laity.

It's probably not enough. But we have to try.

Timothy Ryan said...

Do read THE RAGAMUFFIN GOSPEL by Brendan Manning. Read, BETWEEN HEAVEN AND MIRTH by James Martin, S. J.

FR Timothy K Ryan
Diocese of Savannah, Retired.

Jusabellum said...

The thing about the Ragamuffin Gospel is that it presumes who its enemies will be.

In my experience - my social milieu - we're not a bunch of St. John's. We're not Pharisees who never fell and so don't know sin "from the inside". If we're judgmental or harsh it's not from the perspective of someone who has never been in the gutter but rather from the perspective of someone who HAS and who has climbed out and fallen back a thousand times and so is intimately aware of all the temptations and clever rationalizations for taking 'risks' with one's concupiscence.

Thus we tend to be hyper-vigilant to those ideas that, while nice sounding, would be poison to us precisely to the threat of presumption on God's mercy.

The trick is to apply the category of sin and redemption not in the sexual realm but in the financial.

How might the Ragamuffin Gospel "work" for some fat-cat capitalist who struggles with greed and regularly "slips" into not treating his workers well?

How might it "work" with a husband who regularly struggles with abuse (verbal, emotional, and physical) with his wife and children?

Will this message work with people who pollute the environment? Yes, in theory we "know" we should respect Mother Earth, but look, it's just so easy and 'free' to dump trash and waste directly into the ground rather than recycle.... so do we cut ourselves slack, admit that we're helpless and not beat ourselves up too badly when we dump tons of evil carbon into the atmosphere or pollute the ground water?

If one's theology and pastoral theology is to be "of God' then it should work in every moral category of life and human experience not just the one category of sexual sin.

I have found that many authors like Brennan Manning are not half as intelligent or insightful as they might think they are and not half as experienced in both sin and virtue that they think they are.

Many of us have been in the blackest pit of despair and the dark night of the soul. Many of us have faced both the miserific vision of evil and glimpsed the unmerited, unforeseen light of Heaven.

The Gospel is a mystery - we can neither wrap it up in a Pelagian box or in a syncretistic, presumption on mercy platter. The Gospel is both Mercy and Justice. It's both a promise of heaven and a warning of hell. The Way to remain in Jesus involves both religion and spirituality. Both sacraments and sacramentals.

We need to master the art of accepting good guilt while testing spirits and rejecting toxic guilt. To embrace real crosses and yet discover in them a "light yoke". This awareness of the paradox of Christ and Christian discipleship is what I find lacking in many of these 'new-agey' "theologians".

I've no doubt they mean well and have saved people from suicide. But as someone who has "been there" I think we need more than this to not just be 'good' but to be holy as Our heavenly Father is holy.