Tuesday, January 26, 2016

THIS IS ASTUTE, BUT HOW DO WE TURN IT AROUND? CHRISTIANITY RUNNING ON FUMES


BY SIMONE ORENDAIN, CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE     1/26/2016
CEBU, Philippines (CNS) — Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron said popular culture’s message of individuals being “infinitely right” is “repugnant to (Catholics’) Eucharistic faith.” But he also said Christianity is “running on fumes” as it tries to counter the trend of people leaving the church or staying away from the Eucharist.
“To stretch out like someone dying of hunger is the right attitude toward the Eucharist,” Bishop Barron said at the 51st International Eucharistic Congress. “What’s sad today is so many in the Catholic world have become blase about the Eucharist.”
The bishop said only 30 percent of Catholics in the United States actually receive Communion, calling this a “disaster.”
At a news briefing after his presentation at the congress, he said that, unlike the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s ideology of self-invention, Catholic faithful “did not invent (their) own story, we belong to a story” and that is “God’s drama.”
Bishop Barron — author of numerous books and a longtime faculty member, then president of Mundelein Seminary, major seminary of the Archdiocese of Chicago — said the call of the church today is to retain Catholics and attract new ones.
“If the church can’t find a way to tell that story in a theo-dramatic way, people will drift away to this easy self-invention philosophy,” he said. “So it is a real challenge to the church. … We’ve got to be bold. We’ve got to be confident. We’ve got to be smart.”
Patrician Brother Peter John Hayes of Ballyfin, Ireland, was in the crowd of about 12,000 who listened, took notes and clicked cameras as the bishop drove home the message of the Eucharist as a meal, a sacrifice and “the real presence” of Christ.
Brother Hayes told Catholic News Service the problem of dwindling numbers of those taking the Eucharist has been on his mind.
“When you wonder, ‘What do we have to do? What can we do? What can I do? … At an event like this … we get it that some of us are on the same road, anyway,” said Brother Hayes.
The bishop used a reading from the Gospel of St. Luke as an example of the two disciples who did not realize that the risen Lord was right next to them on Easter.
Bishop Barron said they were “walking the wrong way,” turning away from God as everyone does, since people are all sinners. And that made it hard to recognize Jesus in their midst. But once they heard his words and were compelled by the power of his life, then begged him to stay, he shared a meal with them and gave the same command he had given the night before he died, “Do this in memory of me.”
People ignore Jesus’ commands all the time, said Bishop Barron, but “over the centuries that one dominical command has been massively obeyed.” That revelation of the pattern of Jesus’ life in the breaking of the bread is the moment the faithful “get it” and are no longer walking the wrong way, he added.
The bishop highlighted the Eucharist as a sacrifice, a theme that he said was the least-known and least-developed.
Bishop Barron emphasized that God does not need the sacrifices of the faithful because he “doesn’t need anything,” but by returning something to God, they “are united to him.”
“The little we bring, if offered to God in the right spirit, breaks against the rock of the divine self-sufficiency and comes back elevated and multiplied for our benefit,” he said.
Julius Maquiling, a eucharistic minister of 25 years from the Cagayan de Oro Archdiocese in the southern Philippines, said he was struck by this concept of sacrifice.
He also told CNS he was touched to be reminded “that the bread is the true bread, Jesus Christ.”
In the talk, Bishop Barron said, “Wealth, pleasure, honor, power … we sinners, we go lusting after them all time, but they won’t satisfy us. Look for eternal things, eternal bread.”
When Jesus says his body and blood are given up for everyone, the bishop said: “If he’s the word of God, what he says is. What he says reaches into the very roots of something and changes it. Really, truly and substantially present, yes.”

22 comments:

DJR said...

THIS IS ASTUTE, BUT HOW DO WE TURN IT AROUND?

"In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to Me, and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world."

It is the only way.

Until that is obeyed, we will not be given the grace to turn things around.

John Drake said...

Good heavens! That the understanding of the Eucharist as sacrifice is the least known should bring shame to anyone and everyone involved in teaching the Catholic faith over the last half century.

Mark Thomas said...

Bishop Barron's honest assessment of the Church's horrific state of collapse is the beginning of the process should we wish to repair Holy Mother Church. The official party line for decades from our bishops was that the Church was in the midst of a tremendous liturgical and spiritual renewal...brought to us by, of course, Vatican II. You won't solve a problem unless you acknowledge said problem. The official party line from our Churchmen was/is utter nonsense. Therefore, good for Bishop Barron for his having not feed us the nonsense that we're in the midst of a liturgical and spiritual springtime.

That said, and here is the key, what plan does Bishop Barron offer to repair Holy Mother Church...well, Latin Church? Does his plan involve the heavy promotion of the TLM? If not...well, at least he acknowledged the reality of the situation...but the collapse of the Church will only worsen.

The problem in question flows from the liturgical collapse of the Latin Church. Liturgy is the one factor that Bishop Barron must address should he wish to help repair Holy Mother Church. By the way, the restoration of the TLM does not mean that some modest yet helpful reforms of the TLM, such as some use of vernaculars during Mass, is out of the question.

Reference to Father McDonald's many discussions in regard to the modest and rational reforms that produced the 1965 A.D. Mass would be helpful to our Churchmen should they wish to lead the Latin Church to sensible liturgical restoration and renewal.

Pax.

Mark Thomas

Anonymous said...

How do we turn it around? Gee I don't know. When have an entire Church full of people that don't believe what the Church teaches. And why would that be? Maybe we should hold a synod and send a paper full of questions to every diocese in the world because this is the springtime of the Church and there has never been such a great period in the Church's history and we have the humblest pope everrrrr.

Or maybe we are living on fumes because so many bishops, priests and nuns and brothers do not believe in the Ctholic Faith and have spread error for 50 years purposefully destroying the Faith of millions. Maybe since the Mass has been changed to emphasis man more than the worship of God maybe just maybe that might be a problem. When the Most Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle has been removed and replaced with a plant or a chair for the presider maybe, just maybe that might be a problem. When we have bishops in high places tell Protestants who do not believe in the Catholic Faith that it is up to them whether or not to receive communion then maybe just maybe that might be a problem. When I see my adulteress neighbor at Mass in her best tees shirt and flip flops giving out communion maybe just maybe that might be a problem. Maybe holding a synod to see how we could rationalize adultery might help or maybe just maybe it might make things worse. But I am nobody this is the Springtime so let's just continue down this road. I think a pope going to Switzerland to praise the Protestant heresy might be a problem and cause more erosion of the Faith but who am I to judge.

Gene said...

What does "in a theo-dramatic way " mean?

Jusadbellum said...

I'm going to be the broken record here but... we must heal the sick, cast out demons and then preach the Gospel. The raw, literal, straight from the book Gospel. Not a mediated, updated, cliff notes version.

Our ancestors in the faith invoked saints, relics, and the power of almighty God to actually heal the sick of body, mind, and soul - not infrequently leading to the mass conversion of all their families.

Our ancestors (and indeed most non-English speaking peoples) regularly invoked the saints, relics, and the power of almighty God through the power of the priest to exorcise demons and demonic oppression. They bound Satan and cast him from a person or a place.

AND THEN, they boldly and without apology but with love preached the Good News to all who would listen but especially to children and young couples.

We have been attempting to reduce Catholicism to a pious NGO that agitates for federal subsidies and calls this "love for the poor". We abandon our hospitals and then are shocked that the federal government invades this space and starts dictating purely secular values as the price to pay for health care. We encouraged all the teaching orders of nuns to abandon the classroom - the one, MOST EFFECTIVE way of drawing whole families out of intergenerational poverty via moral formation, education, and evangelization - and instead watched as they ran off to be "social workers"! This forced the whole Catholic school system to rely on lay teachers which automatically detonated the economy that allowed Catholic schools to compete with public schools.

Dumb!

So now Catholic schools are almost entirely the home of upper middle class children or children on massive subsidy. 60-70% of all Catholic young people DON'T go to Catholic school....and those who do...how many are living and practicing the faith at home?

It's not just the Latin Mass....it's the whole panoply of best practices in pedagogy, evangelization, organization, and formation that were jettisoned after Vatican II and replaced with third rate processes.

What to do? PREACH TO THE MEN. If you want to turn culture and Catholicism around, you need to focus on converting and winning over the hearts and minds of MEN. The women and children will follow.

Anonymous said...

Gene, the article quotes Bp. Barron as follows:
"At a news briefing after his presentation at the congress, he said that, unlike the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s
ideology of self-invention, Catholic faithful “did not invent (their) own story, we belong to a story” and that is 'God’s drama'."

The term "Theo-dramatic", it seems to me from reading the whole article (and I did watch Fr. Barron's homily on EWTN), apparently means that we must approach the Eucharist focused on God's Sacrifice and as "blasé" unbelieving pew-sitters and clergy. Simply put: It's not about us, it's about Him. You and I believe that, but so many do not. Note to progressive priests and their lay cohorts: Pay attention to the dropping numbers not just outside, as in "fallen away", but IN YOUR PEWS. We don't have to be deeply versed in theology to believe the God-drama that unfolds every day during Holy Mass, and to spread the real story to family and friends and co-workers.
Pretty simplistic, I know; just my take...

Anonymous said...

Oops, I meant to type "...NOT as blasé pew-sitters..." Sorry!

Marc said...

I've never before heard of Nietzsche's philosophy referred to as one of "self-invention."

Gene, regarding the term "theo-drama." It would appear that this term served as the basis for some of the writings of Hans Urs von Balthasar, who is a sort of "theological" mentor for Bp. Barron. So, take that for what it's worth.

TJM said...

The Church is its strongest when She is counter-cultural, something the left-wing loons following the Council could not grasp. The more like the World the Church became, the less Her influence.

Gene said...

von Balthassar is the best thing going in Catholic theology, and we used his many volumes on doctrine in conjunction with the study of Karl Barth, with whom von Balthasar had an ongoing dialogue. Barth, himself a Calvinist, said that von Balthasar (a Jesuit) understood his theology better than anyone else, including protestants. Again, that is the kind of ecumenicism that means something. Both Barth and von Balthassar struggled with their tendencies toward universalism and never really satisfactorily dealt with the issue, either in their writings or in their selves. Still, both devout, passionate and brilliant theologians. I took the term I often use, theo-logic, from von Balthassar. Both are heavy on kenosis AND the sovereignty of God.

RE: Nietzsche...nihilism pure and simple. I wouldn't spend much time there. He was considered sexy and hip by sophomore iconoclasts and anti-establishment mavericks in college in the seventies. I was guilty, too...then I got over it.

Marc said...

Von Balthasar has gained a reputation for holding and teaching heretical views (and Bp. Barron has been criticized for espousing those same views), so I cannot agree that von Balthasar is "the best thing going in Catholic theology."

There is more to Nietzsche than nihilism. While he tends to take nihilism as an unavoidable reality, his philosophy also sets out a response to nihilism, which has gained him a reputation as a father of existentialism. I suppose existentialism could be crudely labeled a philosophy of "self-invention," but there is much more to it than that -- it is much more radical. Dare I say that it is "dramatic" in its resistance against the tendencies flowing from the nihilistic state of affairs.

Gene said...

Marc, I had heard that about von Balthasar but, other than his universalist tendencies, no one has ever pointed out what other views he held that were heretical...unless it was just his sympathies with protestant views on certain issues. I was taught, as a philosophy major, that Kierkegaard was the father of existentialism. Things do change! To resist nihilism by a radical emphasis upon self-hood and a worship of the existential hero IS nihilism.

Anonymous said...

Just my 2 cents. The Church on a radical impulse put all Her money on some nag called Vatican 2. Never got out of the gate. Turned around and started running to the Left. Should really shoot it but then what?

Marc said...

While Kierkegaard is still considered the father of existentialism, Nietzsche is seen as a sort of proto-existentialist, along with Dostoyevsky. Nietzsche set up the problem of nothingness that the French existentialists, like Sartre and Camus, would seek to resolve.

While I have an affinity for Nietzsche since his thought had a rather large impact on my life, Camus is my favorite philosopher/writer.

Anonymous said...

Running on fumes? Gosh, I wonder why.
http://remnantnewspaper.com/web/index.php/articles/item/2278-benedict-francis-two-peas-in-a-papal-pod

http://www.churchmilitant.com/news/article/us-bishops-urge-action-on-syrian-crisis

Gene said...

Marc, Fair enough. The problem of nothingness cannot be solved. It is what is left when you lose your faith...when the culture loses its faith. There is no joy, no hope in existentialism, only some endless internal personal apocalypse, constantly seeking, and not finding, some epiphany in some mythical authentic other. I'd go zen first..it is just quiet nihilism, waiting for nothingness to come to you.

George said...


"The bishop[Barron]highlighted the Eucharist as a sacrifice, a theme that he said was the least-known and least-developed"

By the fruit of a tree and its effects was the first Adam and his descendants brought into an existence of sin,suffering and death. Through Christ who hung from the wood of a tree, and fruits that came from that, were the descendants of the New Adam raised up to new life.
By the flesh from one tree was sin and death brought into the world; by the flesh on wood of another tree was Eternal life opened up to man .

By the flesh of the fruit of a tree and its effect was the first Adam and his descendants brought down.
By the flesh on the wood of another tree was the New Adam and His descendants raised up to new life. The one consumed brought death; the other worthily consumed brings life.
By the flesh from one tree was sin and death brought into the world; by the flesh hanging from the wood of another tree was Eternal life opened up to man. .

God in His Benevolence and Providence,and His desire for us to attain holiness, has provided to us this sacrificial gift, this Divine substance of which we are to partake for our spiritual benefit. Just as the chosen people of old consumed their sacrificial offerings, but which were only of benefit to their physical bodies, so we at Mass consume the Sacrifical offering of God which is for our spiritual necessity. The effect of the Eucharist works within each of us according to our spiritual disposition and our preparation to receive it. Just as an infant cannot consume the same amount and kind of food an adult does because the small body is not ready to absorb it, so with many of us the the spiritual effects of the Eucharist on us are small because our soul, and yes, even our physical selves are not prepared to absorb greater . There are many today who receive no positive effect because they consume the Body and Blood without due preparation or considerationof the sinful state of their soul and Who they are receiving into it and so they get no good effect but only serve to compound their sinful condition.



Carol H. said...

"The bishop[Barron]highlighted the Eucharist as a sacrifice, a theme that he said was the least-known and least-developed"

This is an incomplete quote. I watched some of this on EWTN. Bishop Barron said that the Eucharist as a sacrifice, was a theme that was the least-known and least-developed IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY. He then went on to say that the emphasis shifted to the meal after V2.

Just wanted to clarify the matter.

Jusadbellum said...

I think we all run the risk of cargo-cultism.

We see the effects of great movements in the past and imagine that if we only copied some of the elements of these movements we'd get the same or similar effects without realizing that the successful movements in the past are almost all based on the power of the witness of heroic virtue: the power of saints.

The Counter-reformation was successful mostly in staving off Protestantism in half of Europe long enough to send missionaries to the rest of the world for 200 years... including to the Americas. But ultimately this counter-reformation succumbed to the forces of "enlightenment" secret societies, heresies, and regime change.

But the two hundred years from 1560 to 1760 are chock full of holy men and women in every Catholic country and martyrs in the Protestant lands.

The missionaries sent out from those Catholic nations were heroic in the most part and countless became martyrs in the various continents where they spilled their blood after preaching the faith.

We might see the big churches and the liturgies, the uniform and habits but the people that build them and wore them were fired by a passionate love for Christ, an enduring desire to be pure and chaste and live in the state of friendship with God and one another....

Yes, they had Latin Mass and a hundred other pious habits and devotions besides as means to the end of coming to and remaining in the friendship of God. But it was this discipleship that mattered.

We, hungry for the good old days focus on the outside without paying enough attention to the inside.

It will probably take a uselessly messy and devastatingly bloody persecution of Catholicism in the West to re-learn what is most essential to Catholicism and what is the means to the end only.

Unless you know and love the King, you won't care much about the king's rules.




TJM said...

Jusadbellum, there is a lot of wisdom in what you have said but I would not underestimate the external forms which predominated prior to Vatican Disaster II. As someone who was privileged to have experienced Catholicism in the US before the great decay, the external forms inspired, motivated, and helped form a certain esprit de corps which is sadly lacking today. I believe Father Z is correct, Save the Liturgy, Save the World. The pre-Vatican II Church taught far more children n and young adults, dispensed more charity and fed more of the hungry than it has after that unmitigated disaster. Admitting to a HUGE mistake is the first step in recovery. I'm not really interested in hearing from the apologists for the present situation. They had their moment and failed.

George said...

Thanks Carol. Hopefully this talk by Bishop Barron is available on the EWTN website to view. I was just making a few comments that came to me and applied to the article as it was posted on the blog.

My understanding is that the de-emphasis of the sacrificial aspect of the Mass prior to the Twentieth century and the emphasis on the Eucharistic meal was more the perspective of those Christian denominations outside of the Church, and it was only within the Twentieth century where it had gotten a foothold (post Vatican II) within the Catholic Church itself.