Thursday, December 17, 2009

OUR DECLINE AND FALL: Does it have to be this way?

My comment first:

While many areas of our world will see the Church in decline and fall mode, the Catholic Church will survive because our Lord has told us that the gates of hell shall not prevail against her.

Yet, one wonders if all the internal strife and bickering of the last 45 years has not contributed to this "decline and fall." Yes, there are pockets of success here and there, yet overall the best judge of our success is fidelity to our Tradition and secondly the number of people who at least attend Mass on Sunday. Both of these, to our great misfortune, have suffered greatly in the last 45 years.

I read recently about a Catholic Church which is trying to emulate (perhaps we should immolate this style by killing and sacrificing it for something better?) the style of non-denominational mega churches. Evidently 45 percent of these mega churches are composed of former Catholics. But instead of copying them, perhaps we should look at why our people have gone to them. Is it just because they have a strong sense of welcome and community or have those who departed us really not been catechized on what we believe. Did they have a Catholic devotional life and if not why? I still maintain if Sunday Mass, clear moral and doctrinal teachings, and a strong devotional life which includes the Rosary, Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament and novenas are at the core of a Catholic's life, including frequent confession, the likelihood of these Catholics departing the Church would be almost non existent.

What many Catholic parishes have given to Catholics over the years is a smorgasbord of vapid ideas, silly innovations, and superficial, soft-core religious thoughts. None of these will sustain a Catholic and they might as well go elsewhere to find even more vapid ideologies.

Please read the following from a Canadian periodical. It is about the Anglican Church which is far more advanced than we when it comes to dismantling its core beliefs but look also at what has happened to the Catholic Church in Quebec. In the 1950's the Catholic Church in Quebec was extremely strong, but no longer. Will anyone ask why?

Bishop says his diocese is ‘all but dead’
Monday, 14th December 2009. 3:49pm

By: George Conger .

The Diocese of Quebec is all but dead, its bishop told the Canadian House of Bishop at their autumn meeting in Niagara Falls, the Anglican Journal of Canada reports.
Bishop says his diocese is ‘all but dead’

The Rt Rev Dennis Drainville said his diocese was “teetering on the verge of extinction,” according to an account given by the church’s official newspaper.

Of the diocese’s 82 congregations, 50 were childless and 35 congregations had an average age of 75. These graying congregations often had no more than 10 people in church on Sundays, he said. “The critical mass isn’t there, there’s no money anymore,” he said.

Falling attendance is not solely confined to the Anglican Church, however. Until the 1960s Catholic Church attendance stood at more than 90 per cent. However, According to a 2008 L├ęger Marketing poll, the proportion of Quebec's nearly six million Catholics who attend mass weekly now stands at six per cent, the lowest of any Western society.

To combat the decline, Bishop Drainville, who told his colleagues it was very possible he would be the “last bishop of Quebec,” urged the House of Bishops to re-imagine how the church could engage society.

A church should provide “a compassionate, caring community, a transformational relationship with God, and life-changing liturgy,” the bishop said. Anglicans had all three, but seemed unable to “present this to society.”

In 1901 ‘mainline’ Protestants, predominantly Anglicans, Presbyterians, Methodists and Baptists made up 56 per cent of the Canadian population. By 2001 this had fallen to 29 per cent. However, within the Protestant totals a dramatic shift away from the mainline churches has taken place, Dr Bruce Guenther, associate professor of church history and Mennonite studies at Associated Canadian Theological Seminaries has noted.

Guenther found that total Protestant attendance had not declined in real numbers over the last quarter-century but there has been a massive shift within Protestantism. The mainline churches attendance declined by 33 per cent between 1981 and 2001, while evangelical church attendance rose by 50 per cent and was now 25 per cent larger than the old ‘mainline’.

Between 1961 and 2001 the Anglican Church of Canada lost 53 per cent of its members, with numbers declining from 1.36 million to just 642,000. The rate of decline has increased in recent years, according to an independent report given to the Canadian House of Bishops in 2006 by retired marketing expert Keith McKerracher.

After the report’s release, McKerracher said: “My point to the bishops was: Hey listen, guys, we’re declining much faster than any other church. We’re losing 12,836 Anglicans a year. That’s two per cent a year. If you draw a line on the graph, there’ll only be one person left in the Canadian Anglican church by 2061.”

In his comments to the House of Bishops last month, Bishop Drainville said Quebec would not be the only diocese to go under. “There will be many other dioceses that will fail.”


Anonymous said...

"Immolate", Father, or "immitate"?

Robert Kumpel said...

A church should provide “a compassionate, caring community, a transformational relationship with God, and life-changing liturgy,” the bishop said. Anglicans had all three, but seemed unable to “present this to society.”

This is absurd. It reminds me of when the leftist democrats would lose an election in the Reagan era and attribute it to "We're just not getting our message out" instead of taking responsibility for a highly flawed message that offers no solution.

The "bishop's" assessment of what his "church" offers is written in code. Most of us can decipher it by now:

1) "A compassionate caring community" means a place where all morality is relative and there is no right and wrong and the only sin is "judging". When that template has been used at Catholic parishes and dioceses, the results are disastrous.

2) "A transformational relationship with God"? That is so open-ended it could mean anything. Hopefully, God changes all of us, but the real transformation is the call to repentance and we are called to repent constantly. You won't hear THAT too often, especially in the Episcopal church because it's too unpleasant and might offend someone.

3) "A life-changing liturgy" is another coded statement that has too many possible interpretations. I fear what he probably means is a liturgy that is "relevant". Again, the track record of Catholic parishes that have strained themselves to make their liturgies "relevant" is disastrous.

Now compare this to the daring parishes where tradition has been re-discovered: You will see young families packing the church. You will see reverence that will stun you. And you will see vocations.

Young people are not inspired with vague notions of "peace and justice" or "building community". Churches are not filled by telling people whatever you think they want to hear--the TV set will do that. But tell the young people that you are offering them a clear choice: You can take the easy way or stand up and fight with the Church against the evils of our world. If you invite young men to engage in spiritual warfare and educate them in their faith so that they understand there is a battle for their souls taking place every day, you will see vocations and an interest in the sacraments. If you invite them to help "build community", they might as well join the Peace Corps.

I'm preaching to the choir anyway.

Anonymous said...

Sorry! "imitate".

Templar said...

Mr Kumpel hits the ball squarely and with power with his response.

If we want the Church to have relevance in people's lives, and hence in the public forum (one follows the other) it needs to take itself seriously before any of us pew sitters will. Look at the SSPX, FSSP, ICKSP Parishes and what do you see? Real faith; real devotion; disproportionate numbers of attendance and vocations. This is because they preach it the time honored and traditional way. No watering down.

Salvation is hard (camel through the eye of the needle). Bring the A game.

Anonymous said...

Oh! "Emulate." I like the use you came up with for "immolate" in your post, though, Father. Very good.

Marc said...

I think I've heard Fr. McDonald point this out before, but I think it's important here: Can one imagine a properly catechized Catholic leaving the Catholic Church for a mega-church or any other Protestant church? This would be unthinkable for one who actually believes in and even has a glimmer of understanding of the Real Presence! I wonder if a strong belief in the Real Presence is what leads to those devotions, attendance, and vocations that Fr. McDonald and Templar pointed out. The Catholic Church does not need to do anything to get people in the pews except make that message widely and clearly known...