Tuesday, January 19, 2016


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.


Gene said...

Um, whut?

Robert Kumpel said...

I just finished reading a story by Flannery O'Connor called Parker's Back. Like most of her stories, it takes place in the south and like most of them, it deals with fundamentalist protestant types. It's the tale of a rather hedonistic man who like collecting tattoos and is married to a fanatical religious woman whom he is unable to please in any way. After a near-death experience, he resolves to get the only bare part of his body left tattoed--his back. He chooses a fiery-eyed Byzantine face of Christ. Thinking his wife will finally be happy about something, he shows her the tattoo and she denounces him as a heretic, insisting that God is a pure spirit and has no face.

Of course, SHE is the heretic, but there's a point here that we can take and add to your call for more secular things in common. Iconoclasm is a heresy because God DOES indeed have a face, and for us, at least, we know the face of His Son. God made us as physical, material beings and we need physical material signs to stay connected to Him. The ritual of the sacraments, statuary, paintings, architecture are all cultural pieces of the puzzle that holds us together. To discard them is a huge mistake.

When I was a boy, the holy cards and statues captured my imagination. The statues and beautiful stations of the cross told me the stories that kept my faith alive. The magnificent tabernacle (nearly 5 feet high) and baldachino of my parish Church reminded me of the majesty of God. The candles and incense and the Latin I remember hearing at Mass and especially at my First Holy Communion and Benediction, reminded me of how mysterious God is to humanity. If anyone wants to bring that back, or emphasize it more, I'm all for it.

Mark Thomas said...

Man-centered liturgies that are offered in ugly, man-centered Cathedrals and churches...and Bishop Barron noted that the Faith in in shambles at parishes here, there, and everywhere.

Hmmm...I wonder why?


Mark Thomas

Timothy Ryan said...

I was stopped at a stop sign today. There was a School Bus stopped facing me. The,lights changed and the School Bus which was turning left had right of way. As the bus moved on and left I took note of the children. NOT ONE OF THEM WERE LOOKING OUT THE BUS WINDOWS. THEY WERE ALL ON THEIR I-PHONES!

Times have changed. Society has changed. Family Life has changed. It is time to quit moning about the Pre-Vatican 11 Church. The world in which it functioned is " like O'Leary in the Grave! "

In these times we must bring the Teaching of Jesus to the world as it is now, not as we would like it to be!

Read the Book, A BOY FROM GEORGIA by HAMILTON JORDAN and see the Georgia I came to in September 1962.

FR Timothy K Ryan

Gene said...

I did a thesis on Flannery. Did you catch the "burning bush" experience when Parker flips the tractor and catches the tree on fire? His shoes are blown off his feet...it is after that that he goes and gets the tattoo...literally "putting on Christ." Flannery is great...i heard the tapes of when she spoke at Mercer U. Someone in the audience asked her about the "symbolism" in her works. She replied, "Son, if it is just symbolism it isn't worth a damn to me." There is no symbolism in Flannery, no allegory. Christ, in her stories is, variously, a tattoo, a bull, a water mark on a ceiling, a cloud in the sky, and a pen full of hogs. Christ's Incarnation and Resurrection has made nature Sacramental. Non-Christians, particularly non-Catholics, think these are just weird stories about strange people and some vague symbolism. His presence in the lives of these people is relentless...he "batters their hearts" as Donne said. Only those who seek Him understand the stories. There are absolutely no heroes in her stories...the only "hero" is Christ. Read 'em all.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The Georgia that you came to in 1962 and I came to from Italy in 1956 is about the same, just not out in the open as it once was.

Gene said...

The teachings of Jesus are the same for any age. Proposals like Fr. Ryan's make me suspicious that they want to change or water down these teachings to fit the morality of the age. Christ's teachings, Holy Scripture, the Church are meant to form our values not adapt to them. Reminder: Jesus rejected the "world as it is now." Biblical eschatology also rejects it.

Also, because society changes does not mean that there are not many values and views of life that could and should be preserved. People can be taught and encouraged to reject and avoid many "modern" values and behaviors that are ultimately de-humanizing and destructive.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Blame Vatican II: "But Vatican II dismantled everything that kept people engaged..."

But then turn around and blame something else: "Yes, yes, secularism and individualism are at the core of it."

How do we know that, "Even a poorly celebrated Mass in pre-Vatican II times, still managed to capture the spiritual imagination of those attending..."?

And how do we know that they, "...understood so well 'ex opere operato.'" I doubt 1 in 10000 typical Catholics had any idea what this means.

The assumption that everyone was well catechized prior to Vatican II is a common theme here, and I have to say I doubt very much that that was the case. If it were the case, what caused these "well catechized" Catholics to stop going to mass, having babies baptized, having a Catholic funeral?

Chapel veils are not the answer.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Former PI you ask the question about what caused these well catechized Catholics to stop this, that and the other--VATICAN II DID, I WAS THERE AND I REMEMBER! I wore blue jeans to Mass on Sunday and almost gave my father a stroke in doing so. The mantra back that we used about dropping this, that and the other, was Vatican II allows it!

How well do you remember 1965 to 70 liturgically and otherwise in the Church and how everything was encouraged by our priests and yes in Augusta, Georgia, to abandon what we had been doing.

And yes, I would say that the majority of the 90% of Catholics who went to Mass prior to the Council were very, very familiar with the Baltimore Catechism and had memorized it.

They also respected the Magisterium and thus followed blindly what priests and nuns told them about the spirit of Vatican II and following one's conscience.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I also remember how upset pre-Vatican II parents were in the late 1960's when their children were taught spirit of Vatican II things by the Marist brothers and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Corondelet at Aquinas High School in Augusta. That is when things began to unravel and I place the blame of nuns and brothers who knew what was happening in their religious orders and brought it local. It is that 1960's generation of Catholics who now have children and grandchildren who no longer practice the faith and more than likely neither do they.

Gene said...

Kavanaugh has a completely cynical and relativist view of the Church and her people. Protestants quit going to church for the same reason Catholics did...beginning in the 60's all these new issue pastors from big seminaries and divinity schools quit preaching Christ crucified and risen from the dead and began the self-realization/personal encounter/social action preaching that we still most often hear. Jesus is an existential hero, the encounter of "authenticity" with the other person is salvation, and the greatest moral act is to take a minority to lunch. Nobody wants to hear that crap. It is boring, pedantic, and it is a lie.

Gene said...

PS Old Protestant hymn:

"I love to tell the story, for those who know it best
Seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.
And when, in scenes of Glory, I sing the new, new song
T'will be the old, old story that I have loved so long."

Not boring.

Gene said...

Speaking of false belief, John Kasich said today that, "I consider myself to be the prince of light and hope." Gee, and I thought all this time it was Obama. Wow...just wow.

Anonymous said...

After Vat II some of us didn't follow blindly because we were wisely advised by some very good priests to check everything out before accepting what was said by the PP. They said not to take communion on the hand and to receive from a priest and to kneel where possible. We were even told not to change the words to "and I shall be healed" but to retain the old "and my soul shall be healed". I marvel at what insight these priests had - now all but one gone to their eternal rest - I am grateful to them because I would not be practising today but for them. Of course they were all given a rough time of it, but I can say that they have ensured that an orthodox remnant remained in the Church and that has happened the whole world over. These were all mainly secular priests - a monsignor among them - and one priest of a religious order. They said to hang on and that things would be righted and to some degree, up until this recent pontificate, that has been the case but that remnant will continue on just the same. Thankfully, they are a very strong solid core - all still practising - among the few that I know who are and it is all thanks to those good priests. The kind that would have been a thorn in Fr Kavanaugh's side I bet.

Deo gratias for good priests, may God send us many, many holy priests!

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Vatican II had little, if anything, to do with your choice of blue jeans for mass.

If it did, then we would have to use Vatican II as the scapegoat for why people started wearing jeans to court, to weddings, to all those places where, previously, dungarees were considered inappropriate.

My own mother was surprised that I wore jeans to class at Belmont Abbey. I never had the heart to tell her that I wore the same jeans when teaching lab at Notre Dame.

Maybe Vatican II can be blamed for women giving up white gloves when shopping on Broughton Street in Savannah or Broad Street in Augusta.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

You continue to miss the point rather intentionally I know. Vatican II was used by people to justify the deconstruction of the Church. Priests, nuns and lay leaders used the spirit of Vatican II to do it. I don't think it was entirely malicious but in part it was and the roots of only 12% of Catholics attending Mass goes back to Vatican II not implemented properly in my memory, that is the late 1960's and all of the 70's which is the point of what I write--Pope Benedict's hermeneutic is the way.

Anonymous said...

Vat II was given as the reason why Catholic girls at a local college were handed scissors and told to cut out the traditional hymns from the hymnals because they were regarded as too sentimental and not in conformity with the spirit of Vat II, which has proved not to be a very good vintage.

Anonymous said...

Much as we want to crucify the so-called liberal clergy of the 1960s and 1970s for all the bad changes following Vatican 2, let us not forget what a debilitating role the US Supreme Court has played in our cultural demise. They say gay marriage is a right, even though it is nowhere mentioned in the Constitution and marriage anyway has traditionally been a state issue. The Supremes say abortion, for any reason at any time, is a constitutional right---even though of course the Constitution is silent on the subject. Just the other day, the Supreme Court refused to hear a case from a lower court that struck down an Arkansas abortion ban at 12 weeks (when a heartbeat could be detected). And then of course there was RobertsCare (Obamacare, saved by a single vote because of the deceit of John Roberts). Elect a Democratic president in 2016 and we will be past the point of no return.....

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

So, not Vatican Two itself but the improper implementation of Vatican Two caused you to wear blue jeans to mass, caused women to stop wearing gloves when shopping, and caused people to wear jeans to court, to weddings, and to class.

I understand now.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

yes, this is what we were told by those who misinterpreted Vatican II. Just look at the fiasco of a sanctuary you have at Holy Spirit. The Presbyterians would feel fine in it. Did Vatican II say a word about Mass facing the congregation, the use of guitars for music, banal, secular tunes set to religious words, the tabernacle next to a bookcase and the priest's chair dead center and statues in the narthex?

How is it that these things are in Holy Spirit this way. Did Vatican II teach this. Of course not, but someone thought they did and you maintain them so you must too.

chapel veils and bluejeans are minor compared to what I write above, but all part and parcel.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Well, I don't know too many Presbyterian churches that have a tabernacle, without or without a bookcase next to it, so I suspect your comparison is more than a little weak and poorly thought out.

Vatican Two did not stand alone, as you and others often overlook. For example, SC 25 states, "The liturgical books are to be revised as soon as possible; experts are to be employed on the task, and bishops are to be consulted, from various parts of the world." There's lots that Vatican Two did not teach; the implementation of Vatican Two came later. To suggest that because we cannot find anything in the documents of Vatican Two about "Mass facing the congregation" doesn't mean that mass facing the congregation is, itself, a bad thing or that it was not intended or foreseen by the Council Fathers.

And by the way, there are two statues in the church here at Holy Spirit, along with two icons, one over each of the votive candle stands, along with two statues in the narthex. In that space also are two El Greco reproductions and a lovely painting of the Madonna and child.

SC continues, "39. Within the limits set by the typical editions of the liturgical books, it shall be for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, to specify adaptations, especially in the case of the administration of the sacraments, the sacramentals, processions, liturgical language, sacred music, and the arts, but according to the fundamental norms laid down in this Constitution."

So, you see, your silly swipe at guitars being used to accompany singing in Catholic churches is more than a little unsupportable, as far as the documents of Vatican Two go.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Thank you for illustrating the point I was making about priests, etc making people think these things are actually taught by Vatican II--great hermeneutic on your part!

Gene said...

El Greco...yep, Baroque. That sounds like Holy Spirit and Kavanaugh. The fact that the Priest's chair is dead center at Kavanaugh's Church surprises me not at all. LOL!

John Nolan said...

The problem with guitars is that the singing they accompany is of a faux-folk or sacro-pop genre which dates from the 1960s. The only instrument specifically mentioned in SC is the pipe organ, and the style of music to be given 'first place' because it is proper to the Roman liturgy is Gregorian chant (which of course requires no accompaniment). Sacred polyphony also gets an honourable mention. The guitar is not suitable for either of these genres.

When someone picks up a guitar in church the heart sinks; not because of any dislike of the instrument per se, but because one instantly knows what sort of music to expect, and it sure ain't chant. How people can put up with it week after week, in season and out of season, is beyond me.

Gene said...

Invariably, the guitars I have heard in Church were played poorly by pimple faced adolescents who sang through their noses as loud as they could.

Dialogue said...

To be honest, I'm still trying to understand the title of this post.

John Nolan said...

Gene, it was once admirably stated that real liturgical reform could not take place until the last guitar was smashed over the head of the last 'lay minister of Communion'. I second that.

Gene said...

John, Amen!

Gene said...

Dialogue, something about a lofty theology of some elements re-accessing an alternate Bishop Barron prior to a council of what the Church once was...or something.