Wednesday, August 20, 2014


From the Deacon's Bench:
James_foley_marquette  .
We can only imagine the terror and the Blessed Mother embracing him!

James Wright Foley, Catholic, writes of praying the rosary in prison

What happened to this man yesterday is beyond imagining.
But few accounts of his brave life and horrible death have mentioned one significant fact: his faith.
My blog neighbor Frank Weathers has the scoop, with an excerpt from a piece Foley wrote for the Marquette alumni magazine three years ago:
Myself and two colleagues had been captured and were being held in a military detention center in Tripoli. Each day brought increasing worry that our moms would begin to panic. My colleague, Clare, was supposed to call her mom on her birthday, which was the day after we were captured. I had still not fully admitted to myself that my mom knew what had happened. But I kept telling Clare my mom had a strong faith.
I prayed she’d know I was OK. I prayed I could communicate through some cosmic reach of the universe to her.
I began to pray the rosary. It was what my mother and grandmother would have prayed. 
I said 10 Hail Marys between each Our Father. It took a long time, almost an hour to count 100 Hail Marys off on my knuckles. And it helped to keep my mind focused.
Clare and I prayed together out loud. It felt energizing to speak our weaknesses and hopes together, as if in a conversation with God, rather than silently and alone.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him..
Our Lady, Help of Christians
Our Lady, Help of Christians


Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I don't buy what these "right wing" groups are saying and what evidence do they have.

Foley's parents said this when he was captured two years ago:

Foley's family said they have not heard from him since.

"We want Jim to come safely home, or at least we need to speak with him to know he's OK," said his father, John Foley, in the online statement. "Jim is an objective journalist and we appeal for the release of Jim unharmed. To the people who have Jim, please contact us so we can work together toward his release."

The Chairman of Agence France-Press, Emmanuel Hoog, said in a statement that the news agency was doing all it could to get Foley released.

"James is a professional journalist who has remained totally neutral in this conflict," Hoog said. "His captors, whoever they may be, must release him immediately."

In April 2011, Foley and two other reporters were detained by government forces in Libya while covering that country's civil war. They were released six weeks later. South African photographer Anton Hammerl was shot during their capture and left to die in the desert.

"I'll regret that day for the rest of my life. I'll regret what happened to Anton," Foley told The Associated Press at the time. "I will constantly analyze that."

The U.N. said Wednesday that more than 60,000 people have been killed since the start of Syria's conflict in March 2011. This number represents a large jump from death tolls previously given by anti-regime activists.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said that Syria was the most dangerous country in the world for journalists in 2012, when 28 reporters were killed.

Those who lost their lives include award-winning French TV reporter Gilles Jacquier, photographer Remi Ochlik and Britain's Sunday Times correspondent Marie Colvin. Also, Anthony Shadid, a correspondent for The New York Times, died after an apparent asthma attack while on assignment in Syria.

Last month, NBC correspondent Richard Engel and his crew were detained by pro-regime gunmen near where Foley was kidnapped. After his release, Engels said they escaped unharmed during a firefight between their captors and anti-regime rebels.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Who Was James Wright Foley? From

Gene said...

Bellum, My comments about his political leanings and actions say nothing about the state of his soul. Our relationship to Christ transcends our political views, Left or Right.

JusadBellum said...

Gene, if he died a martyrs death then it's anything but a ho-hum execution.

In Catholic theology we don't believe the martyrs were utterly perfect and right in all their opinions during life. Nor do we hold saints to that standard either.

One can shed a tear for a man's death without agreeing with everything the man stood for or believed or claimed to believe.

How many of those tweets were done in duress to ingratiate him with captors or guardians we may never know. But to assume the worse about him is unbecoming.

Gene said...

Bellum, does he fit the definition of a martyr? Did he die FOR THE FAITH? Of course, I think his death was a terrible thing and it is all the more reason to obliterate Islam from the face of the earth. It is a savage religion and no one would miss it.

George said...

Some would characterize Mr Foley as being personally irresponsible and foolhardy. Journalists like to be where the action is (although there are those who will draw the line somwhere) . The media does tend to be predominately(overwhelmingly) liberal- surveys have born that out. This is why I exercise prudence in anything I read about the Holy Father. Still, I look at the act itself. It was (and is) a profoundly evil one. No matter the religion or political leanings of the person executed, there can be no excuse or good reason to do this to another human being. It can't be said at this point that Mr Foley died a martyr. More would have to be known. It is possible he was given the choice to convert or be executed. At any rate we can still pray for his soul and his family and that somehow, someday, sooner rather than later, these kind of acts in the name of religion will cease.

rcg said...

Foley was a fool and sinner which makes him the Perfect candidate to be a Catholic. If I take what is being portrayed about his faith on face value, then it would be hard to ask for more from him.

Anonymous said...

Well, I for one am edified to know that it's possible this young man, James Foley, prayed the rosary in his captivity. It reminds me of the story of Immaculee Ilibagiza during the Rwandan massacre. She experienced deep conversion in her heart during those 91 days of trial and fear.
You know the story.
(From her website):
"Anger and resentment about her situation were literally eating her alive and destroying her faith, but rather than succumbing to the rage that she felt, Immaculée instead turned to prayer. She began to pray the rosary as a way of drowning out the negativity that was building up inside her. Immaculée found solace and peace in prayer and began to pray from the time she opened her eyes in the morning to the time she closed her eyes at night. Through prayer, she eventually found it possible, and in fact imperative, to forgive her tormentors and her family's murderers."
We have no idea the state of Jim Foley's mind or soul after his 1 3/4 years of captivity. I, for one, have great hope for him.
'The smoldering wick he will not extinguish, the bruised reed he will not break.' Matt. 12:20
Hope. Always hope for souls.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Immaculee spoke to our high school a few years back here in Macon.

Anonymous said...

Ladies and Gentleman, Islam is a death cult not a religion. I cannot stand another moment when the left and Obama call it a religion of peace!!! There is no such thing as "moderate" Muslims only Muslims. Europe will be majority Muslim within less than a decade, the birthrate of Muslims in Europe is 7.5 compared to 0.1 with white Europeans. The churches in Europe are empty and converted into Mosques, Catholicism and Lutheranism are all but dead in Germany. The Church of England is also dead, Sharia Law is rampant in England and it's nobody's fault but the Europeans!!!

rcg said...

I am dismayed that Obama and Cameron became exorsized at the death do a single journalist and silent at the death of the Christians in Syria and Iraq. They are no doubt dismayed and feel deceived to discover Foley was a man of faith; Catholic, too! I will not be surprised if Folley was much closer to Pelosi than Francis in his faith, yet that would, ironically, be more of a shock to Church remain convinced good intentions are not paving stones.

The Lord moves in strange ways. Perhaps The Lord was pleased for Foley to be martyred. Foley did not seem to hide from it for he had ample opportunity to flee before this recent capture or convert under the most dire circumstances and he did neither.

So maybe a martyred reporter could now be the patron saint to the willfully blind. Pray to him to intercede on our behalf and heal our indifference.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I have removed comments disparaging of the deceased Jim Foley and other comments surrounding those. Please do not use my blog as fair ground to disparage others. Since when have Catholics become so worldly and opposed to the 10 Commandments?--Just Saying.

Passingthrough said...

Fr. McDonald, Thank you!

Jdj said...

Thank you, Father. Another blogging priest, Fr. Dwight Longenecker (who runs the excellent "Standing On My Head") after many years of monitoring scurrilous post responses, last week closed his combox permanently. I regret that adult Catholic Christians have to be handled this way, but apparently such is the contemporary state of things. See his post about the decision:

I am all for good discussion; disagreement can foster learning and even changed attitudes and hearts on occasion. But such can only occur when wisdom (as defined in Proverbs) and charity prevail. We must always ask ourselves: What is my motivation for this comment I am about to post and what will it accomplish? Will it edify or condemn me in eternity?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

JDL, I've thought about that too or just stop blogging altogether. So many comment here on the "spirit of Vatican II" bad stuff, usually liturgically or referring to heterodoxy but then completely go off the rails in how they communicate with one another, which more than likely they would never do in person with the same person. Am I enabling bad behavior or open discussion? Calumny, gossip, false witness are all very serious sins and attacking people anonymously or in person, in writing or in person just doesn't mix well with what we are called to do in terms of charity.

I've heard many confessions where people confess their sins against charity and none of these sins as serious as they are are as serious as some of the uncharitable comments here.

Marc said...

Honestly, if you closed the comments here, I think you'd lose a lot of readers.

Православный физик said...

I think in writing, tone can't be read as such, many people in writing come off way harsher than they actually are in person, or the view that's actually held.

It'd be a disservice to close the comments…while we can't control what comes out of others' mouths, we can control what's allowed through.

We lament when our expressions aren't allowed in public, should we not practice our own?

Back to the journalist, may he rest in peace and perpetual light shine upon him.

Gene said...

Censorship is alive and well. I'm disappointed in you Fr. Seriously, why don't you just disable all comments so you can tailor it to exactly what you want. That's what the media does. Truth is the first casualty.
I do not believe it is a sin to comment on the actions of a public figure, nor is it a sin to point out stupidity.

Pater Ignotus said...

Good Father - You bear full responsibility for posting comments here that are "...vitriolic and disrespectful of the laity in general, and Pope Francis, bishops and priests in particular...".

If, as you say, you "... review each comment prior to posting..." then everything here has your "imprimatur."

Now, I'm not suggesting that you agree or even approve the content of the postings. In fact, I know that you don't. But you choose to post things here that violate your own often repeated standards.

It should not come as a surprise to you that, when you choose to allow offensive, disrespectful, and outright false statements to be made here, people react accordingly.

I'd say keep the comments going, but don't post what you clearly recognize as sub-standard.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

There are a goodly number of comments that I do delete immediately but as you can read on the front of my blog I have this disclaimer:

The views expressed on this social network are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of my bishop or the Diocese of Savannah.” Comments that I post do not necessarily reflect my views or the views of the Bishop of the Diocese of Savannah.

Pater Ignotus said...

Good Father - The comments YOU approve for posting may not reflect what YOU or the bishop or the diocese think.

But YOU approve them for posting so YOU bear responsibility for what shows up on YOUR blog...

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...


Pater Ignotus said...

Good Father - Yes, the comments are from others, but YOU approve them for posting.

If you think some posts are not appropriate, don't post them.

rcg said...

PI, I don't know that is a bad thing. This is a place to interact. It is only a problem if a crazy post goes unchallenged, but even that could also mean no one takes it seriously. In fact, I think it is a good thing for some of the more outlandish posts to say what many people are already thinking and for the post and sometimes the poster, to be challenged on its merits. .

Rood Screen said...

Come on, Pater Ignotus, you can see that Fr. MacDonald is doing his best to provide a balanced blog with reasonable review of comments.

Anonymous 2 said...

Anonymous at 12:53 a.m:

“Ladies and Gentleman, Islam is a death cult not a religion. I cannot stand another moment when the left and Obama call it a religion of peace!!! There is no such thing as "moderate" Muslims only Muslims.”

Now, no-one here carries a brief for radical Islamic extremists such as ISIS (or ISIL), and their actions have also been widely condemned by authoritative voices throughout the Islamic world, even though many on the “right” who should know better refuse to acknowledge this fact:

And these are the words of Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium:

252. Our relationship with the followers of Islam has taken on great importance, since they are now significantly present in many traditionally Christian countries, where they can freely worship and become fully a part of society. We must never forget that they “profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, who will judge humanity on the last day.” The sacred writings of Islam have retained some Christian teachings; Jesus and Mary receive profound veneration and it is admirable to see how Muslims both young and old, men and women, make time for daily prayer and faithfully take part in religious services. Many of them also have a deep conviction that their life, in its entirety, is from God and for God. They also acknowledge the need to respond to God with an ethical commitment and with mercy towards those most in need.

253. In order to sustain dialogue with Islam, suitable training is essential for all involved, not only so that they can be solidly and joyfully grounded in their own identity, but so that they can also acknowledge the values of others, appreciate the concerns underlying their demands and shed light on shared beliefs. We Christians should embrace with affection and respect Muslim immigrants to our countries in the same way that we hope and ask to be received and respected in countries of Islamic tradition. I ask and I humbly entreat those countries to grant Christians freedom to worship and to practice their faith, in light of the freedom which followers of Islam enjoy in Western countries! Faced with disconcerting episodes of violent fundamentalism, our respect for true followers of Islam should lead us to avoid hateful generalisations, for authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.

Now, I do think the claim that “the proper reading of the Koran is opposed to every form of violence” is too sweeping, for the Qur’an clearly endorses warfare in certain circumstances. But so is your own statement. The truth, as is often the case, lies somewhere in between. And there_is_such a thing as a moderate Muslim.


Anonymous 2 said...

People have to understand three things:

(1) The form of Shari’a that groups like ISIS want to introduce in a comprehensive regulation of society is a particularly harsh form of Shari’a. There are milder forms and a degree of pluralism exists within the Shari’a regarding the precise norms. Thus in classical Shari’a there are four Sunni schools and also different camps within Shiite Islam. The different ways women dress across the Islamic world is a very visible illustration of this. These differences in dress are largely due to differences among the schools of Islamic Law. As I understand the matter, groups such as ISIS espouse a form of Muslim fundamentalism that seeks to return to an imagined, idealized view of the pre-classical Shari’a. They are generally viewed as espousing a particularly extreme version of one of the four Sunni schools, that is, a variant of Wahabism, which is an extreme version of the Hanbali school:

(2) In many Muslim countries in many areas of law the classical Shari’a itself has been modified or replaced by Westernized law and Islam has been privatized to a great extent in these countries.

(3) The rise of political Islam in the era of the modern nation state (a Western invention) with one unified legal system and body of law for all its subjects is anachronistic because under the classical Shari’a, Muslims get to choose which school of law they want to belong to. The temporal ruler, caliph or sultan is not authorized to legislate only one version of Shar’ia for all his people. The Shari’a is in the hands of the religious and legal scholars, the ulema, not the temporal ruler.

Pater Ignotus said...

rcg and JBS - I don't agree. Racist statements, bullying, false accusations, factual errors - these should not be approved for posting. They have no merits.

Gene said...

Oh, lookie, Anon 2 is back…you know, the one who thinks there was no difference between the Nazis and the US in WW II because we did "terror bombing" of German cities…the one who is forever apologizing for Muslims…the one who loves Obama and voted for him…I guess he has his NPR hat on backwards again…sort of like spinach for Popeye.

Anonymous 2 said...

Dear Fellow Bloggers:

Please note that, if Father McDonald fails to prevent posting of the comment in accordance with his stated policy, from now on I will respond to any uncivil and gratuitously insulting ad hominem comment that Gene directs at me by reposting this notice.

Thank you,

Anonymous 2, August 12, 2014

rcg said...

PI, I understand, and agree in principle. But that is not how people really are. This is on going catechesis and growth in our Spirit. Exactly what Saint Paul wrote of so often. I will use the stereotype that hurts me the most, personally: In your part of the world you have surely had people come for instruction in the Faith, who want to become Catholic who are racist. Do you turn them away? More importantly, do you deny communion to people who are already Catholics who speak as racists? Do you encourage, demand!, them to not speak that way? If they cannot speak their minds, how would you ever change them? How would you know when to encourage them to face their lack of charity and go to confession? You can only win their hearts by engaging their minds honestly. Sometime you have to get dirty. The pastor should smell like the sheep because to do so, he has to get close enough to touch them, not because they smell nice.

Pater Ignotus said...

rcg - No one, in my presence, expresses racist sentiments or uses racist language without an almost instant reprimand from me.

I recall that, at 13 years of age, I corrected a much older gentleman who, after we had gathered on the curb to observe the result of a car wreck on our street, said it must have been caused by the "n-----" driving one of the cars.

Without missing a beat I told him in no uncertain terms that his language was racist and that he was wrong to speak that way.

But this blog isn't a crowd gathered to observe the aftermath of a car wreck. The racist sentiments expressed here are thought out and intentional. And, as I did at 13 and as I would do in my RCIA class or ANY situation, I will call out the evil of racism directly and unflinchingly.

Anonymous 2 said...


So we are supposed to “wear our Sunday best” to honor God when we attend Mass but can “say our everyday worst” when we encounter one another? Speaking one’s mind on the merits of an issue is one thing and should be encouraged because the cure for bad speech, as we know, is more speech. I do understand what you are saying, but should the continuing decline and coarsening of our discourse be encouraged? Moreover, I lose count of the fallacies of reasoning when I read some of the comments. For some people “critical thinking” seems to imply just being critical and launching ad hominem attacks.

I will concede that sometimes incivility is necessary, especially in response to personal or institutional incivility. But c’mon, rcg, you cannot tell me that Gene’s constant tactic of seeking to belittle a commenter, instead of engaging the merits of the comment, has any value or advances the discussion. Indeed, its only purpose and effect is to shut down discussion. Let Gene and others who share his tendencies show the courage and the wit to engage the merits.

Marc said...

The way to root out racism isn't with censorship. This is where I depart from my liberal brethren who seek to convert up problems instead of actually confronting them.

rcg said...

I think I can answer these posts simultaneously: It is not tolerating something to correct it in a civil manner. Certainly there are times it is appropriate to be forceful, but that usually implies weakness in some fashion. This is going to sound strange but I don't think Gene is belittling as much as taunting, and often because he wants to pursue a discussion, argument, to some sort of conclusion. I see that as our opportunity to engage him to discuss the object, I mean that in the Socratic sense, that we are irritated about. This is great place to test ideas and to grow as Catholics.

This is what the Church is. We are at odds in any number of ways. Consider that in my profession there could be a sincerely conservative Catholic, perhaps in some jungle in Central America, or even a desert in Iraq, who loves Our Lord and Lady and Mother Church as much as I do. But if on a specific secular objective we differ at the wrong moment we would each be literally out for one another's blood. As I grow in understanding of this, I have pondered it nearly everyday for over 30 years, I must become better at what I do so that in the Name of God I not have to do it. To quote one of my favorite historical figures, "Jaw, Jaw is better than war, war." Encouraging someone, even Gene whom I love like a brother, to say and reveal what he feels (a light task!) then we can discuss the points that may be an obstacle to him, and ME, in Faith. I think we shy from dirty tasks more than we should. I think observing and discuss man as man is a precursor to a good confession, for contrition is a conscious act.

Anonymous 2 said...


I appreciate what you are trying to do. I hope you also appreciate the many ways I have tried to reach out to Gene. However, he has adamantly rebuffed every attempt on my part. I have nothing else to offer.

Pater Ignotus said...

rcg - Racism is not an idea that needs to be tested. Neither is making false accusations, bullying, or belittling those who hold different opinions.

Standing up against and calling out these evils does not imply weakness in any fashion whatsoever.

In fact, it is the weak who resort to such behavior.

rcg said...

PI I understand what you mean, but your statement in its form goes right to WHY I think it needs to be openly discussed. We don't even have a standard definition of what racism is to figure out why it is bad. It is my impression that Gene is not as much a racist as resentful of hypocritical definitions of it.

I will leave the other shoe to drop with that.

George said...

Pater Ignotus:

You did the right thing in correcting the older gentleman. People do change. It is important to acknowledge that this kind of thing is often a learned behaviour. This person may have been ( and more than likely was) brought up in an environment where this kind of language and attitude were common. Certainly in the South this was true. So while we should correct we should be prudent in how we judge. The South has changed a lot from what it use to be. Tim Scott who is the only African American US Senator recently won his primary with 90% of the vote He did this in a Southern state (South Carolina) where at one time not all that long ago (historically speaking) he would not even have been able to vote. He did this in the Republican primary which is where you find the most conservative of individuals voting. We do need to be careful in how we judge people, lest we be guilty of something ourselves in accusing them. We can challenge an individual and pray for them bur only God can judge. We live in a time where some are labeled racist by others just because they differ with some of the policies of President Obama.

Pater Ignotus said...

rcg - Racism does not need to be discussed openly. It needs to be met head on with 1) identification and 2) calling it the sin that it is.

George - It is entirely possible to say "This is why I disagree with the President.". When one uses racist terms to refer to the President, his wife and children, to refer to an entire race as "feral," to refer to Black women as "jukin and jivin" down the aisle, and to imitate Black lingo then the intent of the person writing such things is abundantly clear.

Jdj said...

Folks, all that being said (and the last few comments have been an interesting discussion), the bottom line is that this is Fr. MacDonald's blog. He owns this piece of property and gets to decide when and how the land will be cleared and tilled. He plants the seed, waters and fertilizes as needed. He does all of this for the benefit of hungry folks who need the food to sustain them. Carrying this analogy forward (perhaps poor and lacking, but the only one that comes to mind right now), if Fr. sees potential or actual damage to the crop, it is Fr.'s call as to how he deals with the culprit.
And may The Lord of the Harvest grant him wisdom.

Pater Ignotus said...

Jdj - We are agreed that this is Good Father McDonald's garden to plant and uproots as he pleases.

The question is why he approves for posting comments that clearly violate his STATED POLICY?

Plainly he wants these comments on his blog or, after reviewing each comment prior to posting, he would not click them through.

Then, in numerous cases, having approved these comments, he turns around and lambastes those posters whose comments violate the policy, even though he approved the comments for posting?

Jdj said...

Pater, I understand your question and I agree that this has happened at times in the past. But I would be willing to bet that Fr. MacDonald has had to read and disallow a lot of scurrilous stuff we don't even know about and just wearies of it at times. I do think that he took pains to correct the problem on this particular thread and thus should be encouraged from this point on, not castigated for what has happened in the past. A blog is a lot of work and very discouraging work at times according to a couple of other authors I know (one priest, one lay). Let's just move on from here with good intent, ALL of us agreeing to watch our attitudes and thus our words more carefully, calling each other out respectfully if necessary, and forgiving when needed.
As the saying goes: "Forgiveness is giving up hope for a better past."

Dymphna said...

Let's not be sentimental and foolish. Hopefully he was a saint by the time the knife came but we can not call him a martyr because there is no evidence, as yet that he died for the Faith.

Pater Ignotus said...

Lily Tomlin is wise. And I am not bothered by the past. True repentance is not merely saying "I'm sorry," but also changing the way you behave in the future...

George said...

Pater Ignotus:
You might very well end up correcting a young person today as you did the older gentleman (if you haven't already) for using the n-word , who learned this not from a neanderthal upbringing, but from listening to African American rap and hip hop music. Add to that all the other kinds of terms degrading to women which the person will have also added to his repertoire. Things sure are a lot different today than when you or I were coming up.
While some things have gotten better, other things have gone the other way. The Devil never sleeps.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Good point George, sometime PI lives in denial about how good it is today and fails to recognize the negative influences on the young that has led them to abandon the Church and denigrate others based upon the slow cooking of the crockpot of life lived virtually. It is worse today than back then.

Pater Ignotus said...

Good Father - I have no delusions about "how good it is today." It is good to be alive today and better than being alive in the 1450's or the 1650's or even the 1850's.

But I am very aware of the negative influences in our culture today. Where we differ is in how we might best respond. Your view seems to be that we should attempt to establish a veneer of 1950's Catholicism with chapel veils, Latin masses, quarter-million dollar altar rails, men and women and children in "Sunday Best" clothes. If we can make things look and sound like the 1950's then all will be well.

I would suggest you visit the next Renaissance Faire in Atlanta where everyone dresses, talks, sing, and eats as if it were 1575 in Florence. It may look and sound and smell like 1575, but it's not.

I have no idea what you mean when you say "... a life lived virtually." Do you mean virtuously? Do you mean virtual reality?

George - Where a person learns vulgar or racist language or attitudes is immaterial.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Virtual reality lived on the internet, smart phones and the like and not in face to face everyday living like in the wonderful 1950's.

George said...

Pater Ignotus:
It is immaterial. I don't disagree. I was just bringing up the irony of the situation today where it is not from the J B Stoner types that young people today are learning to use this racist term but from those who are culturally and in appearance his polar opposite. Evil and bad behavior can be compared to the air in a balloon. Press it on one side and it bulges out the other. As far as your response to Fr. McDonald, we are more and more living in an existence( in this country anyway) where we have the greatest in technological advances and medical care but where God is pushed farther and farther into the background ( this seems to be changing somewhat). Far better to live materially poorer than what we have now but where God is given more prominance in our lives.

Pater Ignotus said...

George - God is not pushed into the background of my life. And I suspect the same can be said of your life.

I don't know how much God was in the foreground of the life of the peasant farmer of the 1400's or 1800's who spent 12 to 14 hours a day working harder than I can even imagine. I don't know how much God was in the foreground of the lives of coal miners in the 1800's who worked 12 hours a day, 6 days a week.

In those days a great material poverty, I don't think God was much in the foreground.

If we choose - and it is a choice - to allow materialism and the consumerism it breeds to separate us from God, that is not the result of material wealth or a higher standard of living, but of a choice being made by individuals like thee and me.

George said...

Pater Ignotus:

What you describe are times of one extreme. We seem to be headed in another. I don't want to go back to the time when there were no child labor laws or 40 hour work week (and if you worked over 40, there was no overtime pay). While technology and labor saving devices have given us more available time, we have filled it with other activities and many of us don't have enough time in our waking hours to do everything we need or want to do. I myself rarely watch TV anymore. I still spend more time on the computer than I ought to. Just reading emails can take up more time than I would like it to. I devote more time than the average person to prayer and spiritual reading( trying to make up for all the years I did not do much of this). It is a struggle. Even though I don't work as hard as the peasant farmer or coal miner of by gone days, I am still on many a day feel drained when I get off work. So what are your thoughts Pater on why Church attendance and religious vocations have declined so dramatically since the 1950's?

Pater Ignotus said...

George - The reasons for decline in Church attendance are described in Robert Bellah's "Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life."

A few passages: "In the mid-nineteenth century small town, it was obvious that the work of each contributed to the good of all, that work is a moral relationship between people, not just a source of material or psychic rewards." (pg 66)

"But the ties one forms in the search for meaning through expressive individualism are not those of the moral community of the calling. They are rather the ties of what we might call the lifestyle enclave." (pg 71)

"Now if selves are defined by their preferences, but those preferences are arbitrary, then each self constitutes it own moral universe, and there is finally no way to reconcile conflicting claims about what is good in itself." (pg 76)

INDIVIDUALISM has become the norm for American/Western people these days. And it is a radical and dangerous individualism that is severing the ties that bind us together.

A person who comes from a family of radical individualists, whose family makes major moves every 4 or 6 or 8 years can feel no connection to and, therefore, no responsibility for to a community. If one feels no responsibility to/for a community, one is highly unlikely to experience a call to priesthood or religious life, both of which are based on a desire to serve God and to serve the community.

The reasons Bellah will note have nothing to do with the language of the mass, the use/non-use of Gregorian chant, whether or not the priest wears a maniple, or the arrangement of the candles on the altar.