Tuesday, January 19, 2016
IF BEING A UNIQUE ALTERNATE SOCIETY WORKS FOR THE CHURCH AND IT DID PRIOR TO THE COUNCIL AND THE NEW LOFTIER THEOLOGY OF BISHOP BARRON, WHICH I'VE REPEATED MYSELF SINCE I WAS ORDAINED, ISN'T WORKING, SHOULD WE REACESS THE LOFTY THEOLOGY AND RETURN TO ELEMENTS OF THE ALTERNATE SOCIETY THAT THE CHURCH ONCE WAS?
Bishop Barron gives a wonderful apologetic as to why the Church is more than just a society to remember a dead hero--she is the mystical Body of Christ, all of us in one way or another are connected to Christ for our very eternal existence and in the Church all the the Sacraments are necessary for our eternal survival.
But then Bishop Barron says this truth, that we all know:
We’re living in a time right now, it’s one of the most disturbing statistics you’ll see. When Catholics, members of this mystical body, are in huge numbers staying away from the sacraments. How many come to Mass? 25 percent maybe? 20 percent? Baptisms are falling off, in parishes around the country. Fewer and fewer people bringing their kids to be baptized. Marriages are falling off.
My comments and observations:
We can castigate the way were and say that the Church as a society, an alternate society, misses the point of being a part of Christ's mystical body.
But Vatican II dismantled everything that kept people engaged, from those most likely to take their faith seriously to those on the periphery who would come because their Catholic identity, cultural as it might have been, captured their imagination and they were at least at Mass, had their children baptized, confirmed and First Communion and they got married in the Church and had a Catholic burial.
Today, even cultural Catholicism is in complete disarray.
Yes, yes, secularism and individualism are at the core of it. But we can't control that as a Church, but we can look and see what worked well prior to Vatican II and what we have discarded.
It will be very difficult to get Religious Life as strong and visible as it was prior to the council, but make no mistake about the influence of traditional Catholic women's orders on Catholics--this is gone today and the laity filling in are NOT capturing the Catholic imagination that the Religious Orders of yesteryear so effectively did.
The Mass is banal in many places and doesn't have to be even in the Ordinary Form. There is a loss a the sense of the sacred, of reverence of fear and wonder in the presence of the Lord. People are too casual with Holy Communion and anyone and their brother distributing it regardless of one's faith and morals. Even a poorly celebrated Mass in pre-Vatican II times, still managed to capture the spiritual imagination of those attending who understood so well "ex opere operato." Who knows what that even means today?
We can wring our hands all we want and promote a lofty theology of why we should be at Mass and live sacramental lives. But we are not capturing the religious imagination of our Catholics in a consistent way around the world as we did prior to the Council.
We can't keep people engaged. And until we have more secular things as Catholics in common, like meatless Fridays, chapel veils, kneeling and genuflecting and reverence for the Church in general, we never will. The Catholic Church will be simply a boutique Church appealing to about 12 to 25% of Catholics unlike the bad old days when we thought ourselves a unique alternate society, we had 90% engaged but on different levels. We kept the cultural Catholics engaged. We are not doing that now.