Tuesday, September 22, 2015


The Catholic Church has a pastoral theology; always has and always will.

Catholics, both clergy and laity, are all over the place in terms of how to hand on the faith and morals of the Church, especially the morals.

What I was taught in the pre-Vatican II Church was that we were never to judge people although we could judge actions but in a Christian way. The implication of this was especially true at Holy Communion time. Many people would not go to the altar railing to receive. We were not to even think why this might be the case. And many people would go to the altar railing to receive and there might be some question about that, we were not to judge.

Years ago in Augusta I spoke to a rather large group of people at First Baptist Church. During the question and answer time, they asked me about artificial birth control and observed that many Catholics use it.

I tried to explain as best I could the rational and logic behind this teaching as it relate to natural law. I mentioned I have always tried to present this teaching in a coherent way and then ask adult Catholics to be adult about it.

In other words, I see myself as a priest who is called to be pastoral, not a policeman or a private investigator to make sure my parishioners are following all the rules.

The Church does not have spies in people's bedrooms. Thank God for that.

Pope Francis gives people the benefit of the doubt and says we are all sinners in need of God's mercy. All of need to go to Confession regularly.

Why is this so hard for so many to understand, not just my last sentence but my entire entry above?


rcg said...

Becoming a Catholic does not cure you of your sinful nature but is acceptance of God's method of dealing with it.

Anonymous said...

Did Francis give Cardinal Burke the benefit of the doubt?

Lefebvrian said...

You ask, why is this so hard for so many to understand? The answer is because what you're saying doesn't make any sense for someone who actually believes in hell. Of course, none of us is tasked with conducting an investigation into the sinful activities of others. However, we all have a responsibility to proclaim the Church's teachings and provide fraternal correction for others (and to lovingly receive correction ourselves).

Since your state of life as a priest requires you to teach and sanctify your flock, you have the responsibility for the souls of those under your charge. You must proclaim the faith with love, which entails both clarity and forcefulness. So, when you say things like, "I have always tried to present this teaching in a coherent way and then ask adult Catholics to be adult about it. . .", that could be understood as condoning the sinful activity. Basically, you are telling people with this line that they should decide for themselves what is best. That is not the Catholic way -- people have a duty to properly form their consciences.

The same is true when you say things like, "Pope Francis gives people the benefit of the doubt. . . ." This doesn't make any sense. What does it mean to give people the benefit of the doubt? When pollsters ask Catholics whether they contracept, the Catholics tell the truth to the pollsters. Are you giving them the benefit of the doubt that they aren't contracepting? Or are you giving them the benefit of the doubt that they have decided for themselves "the adult" thing to do? What does this mean?

Of course it is true that we are all sinners and must go to Confession regularly. If someone confesses contraception to you, you have to make sure that they are prepared to stop the activity, right? What does giving them the benefit of the doubt have to do with this?

Throwing around empty phrases like "give them the benefit of the doubt" and "we are all sinners in need of mercy" is meaningless in the abstract. You have a duty to tell people what the Church teaches to be sinful and call them to a change in life as a result of those teachings. That is, in a sense, the entire point of our lives -- repentance. And, as a priest, if you fail in that regard, then you can be assured that your personal judgment will not go very well.

Jusadbellum said...

I agree with Lefeb here.

If the problem wasn't sex I don't think we'd be giving people the benefit of the doubt.

But it does involve sex, and if there's any dogma the sexual revolution teaches us, it's that people absolutely must have as much sex as they want (when, how, and with whomever they please) or else they'll be miserable and we don't want people to FEEL BAD do we?

Feeling bad is almost as awful as feeling guilty about something. And we all know we're not to have any hangups in sex. Those are reserved for breaking some PC code! So if you say a magic word - shame and off with your head, you guilty racist you! If you say another magic word - shame and off with your head, you guilty 'H8ER! But abort your own child? Pshaw, it's legal! Have an affair? Life is short. Fornicate, masturbate, indulge in porn? Contracept with the wife and secretary? Let each man's conscience be his god.... just don't run afoul of either the civil law or social decorum or there will be hell to pay (not that we believe in an eternal state of damnation mind you, if that exists only right-wing Pharisees go there, amirite, amirite?)

Where is the Church again in all this? As quiet and careful as possible, please. Don't scare the horses (or donors).

Now, if we believed in hell and accepted that the Lord is King over all the earth, we might just care more about peoples' objective good than their widdle widdle feelings. We'd acknowledge and keep in MIND those feelings and their knee jerk Pavlovian social engineered reactions to Catholic notions. We'd be aware of topics and common objections....but only so as to sequentially inoculate and heal people of these secular myths and idols, not to secure them in their delusions.

The Pope is right (but so poorly served by the secular media) that the Church is a field hospital in a battlefield. He's right that we must lead with the best message - the real presence and love of Jesus BEFORE we enumerate the rules....but eventually we do need to address the rules to people who would call themselves mature Catholics.

I can see being delicate with Baptists. But if adults claim to have an adult faith then we need to level with them about what God expects of Catholic married couples and indeed, all adult Catholics and it's not to indulge our lusts and cater to our every whim.

Is being chaste hard? Yes. But men especially hunger for hard things to accomplish. Does it require sacrifice and altruism? Yes. But women hunger for men to sacrifice for their good.

I think we're afraid of our shadow on this issue. Preach the joy we offer to the chaste couple, the sense of daily encounter with Christ found in the chaste soul, the closeness of the cloud of witnesses, the vivid sense of being alive found from fasting and prayer, the crackling energy that comes from sacrificing an infrahuman for a spiritual good (pleasure for focusing on the good of one's spouse) and people will surprise you by aspiring to experiencing such delights.

The Good News is not just slick marketing, it's really good news. But you have to believe it and you need to experience it to effectively communicate it in a way that refutes the world, flesh and devil.

gob said...

Since it appears that the news hasn't reached Macon, Pope Francis is about to land in DC. Sure hope none of our home-grown ISIS terrorists or our home-grown NRA right-wing gun wackos decide to go after him.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

But GOB it has reached Macon and I've spoken to all three of our TV stations and given two interviews on the pope's visit. I've told them all that Pope Francis is about revolution, but not the kind you project on us poor souls, but a revolution of love.

Lefebvrian said...

Did you tell the TV stations that the Church teaches that revolution is intrinsically disordered behavior and that love always requires sacrifice of one's self?

Jusadbellum said...

One needs to reflect on why we do what we do to see what else we ought to do that we are afraid to do.

Why do Catholics insist on chastity and celibacy if not "for the sake of the Kingdom"? That being the case, that the Kingdom is real and matters and puts us in communion with the King in this life and the next.... don't we see the tragedy of missed opportunities in the lives of people who are still slaves to the sexual revolution? Far from being on the DEFENSE, we ought to be on the OFFENSE.

It's the same with other moral issues. There's absolutely no reason for US to be defensive on the pro-life or pro-heteronormative front. We have the intellectual and moral highground if we but actually open our eyes and actually READ the other sides' ground for their ideology.

It's the same with liturgical and traditional catechesis issues... no need for us to be defensive about the 1950's Baltimore catechism or the piety and devotiosn, the mens and women's groups.... the Legion of Decency etc. if we realize what it was for, we'd realize we were right then and all subsequent history only proves us more right now.

Here's a link from which I get the following quote:

It's from Pope Paul VI explaining in 1969 the impending switch from Latin to the vernacular and his reasoning: it's all to be 'relevant' to "modern man" (and he knew that how? Where was the hue and cry against Latin raised from the four corners of the globe before Vatican II? It was all a conceit of theologians to think change would necessarily be good and lowering the threshold would let more people IN THAN STAMPEDE MOST PEOPLE OUT....)

"We have reason indeed for regret, reason almost for bewilderment. What can we put in the place of that language of the angels? We are giving up something of priceless worth. But why? What is more precious than these loftiest of our Church’s values?

“The answer will seem banal, prosaic. Yet it is a good answer, because it is human, because it is apostolic.

“Understanding of prayer is worth more than the silken garments in which it is royally dressed. Participation by the people is worth more—particularly participation by modern people, so fond of plain language which is easily understood and converted into everyday speech.”

So there you go... the Pope and his egg-head theologians THOUGHT - on what data from what survey or what vote raised from what corners of the globe we have no clue - that a massive change to the Mass would necessarily be a good thing.

In the name of future gains they expected to accrue they risked everything. The ends (it'll be popular for "modern man"!!) justified the means....

And what happened? We went from a majority of the Catholic population going to regular Mass to a minority. From booming seminaries and religious orders to moribund or dying orders. From a self-confident Church making converts to a self-obsessed and doubtful Church looking to secular theories and ideologies for guidance in how to make the Kingdom come on earth as it is in the mind of "modern men" and not in heaven.

At the high water mark of Christendom in the West actually being confident, the very top of the hierarchy suddenly lost courage and felt inferior to "modern man". While countless faithful souls were choosing martyrdom in the USSR and China and a hundred 3rd world countries beset by god-less atheistic materialism, the elite theologians in the West were cowed by Western materialistic atheists into thinking they were 2nd class citizens unless they jettisoned the "old stuff".

Maybe it's an attitude thing. But I think it's a matter of theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity to laugh at the pomps and works of the world, flesh, and devil and not let them cow us into feeling inferior.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Yes,I gave a treatise on it, but can't wait for the soundbite.

gob said...

I would love to hear more about what you mean by the kind of revolution I project on you poor souls. My goal is not revolution. My goal is to probe for honesty search for truth...and, on occasion, to puncture the pompous. (And to be a punching bag upon which the stalwart Christians can vent their anger and suppressed doubts.)

Lefebvrian said...



Sometimes I feel like the media's understanding is about as deep as a Beatles song -- "All You Need is Love" -- doop doo-doo doo-doo

Lefebvrian said...

Gob, those are laudable goals. When do you plan to get started on them?

Calvin of Hippo said...

Gee, Gob, that is really too bad because you accomplish none of those things on the blog.

Jusadbellum said...

If the Our Father is not a revolutionary prayer, what is it?

"Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" is about as radical and revolutionary a concept as one can imagine.

If God's will was done on earth.... imagine!

We wouldn't need governments, welfare, insurance, taxes, regulatory schemes, police, armies, compliance officers...

There wouldn't be slavery or child abuse. Or suicides. Or starvation (physical or emotional).

If God's will was done on earth as it is in heaven we would be in paradise.

Calvin of Hippo said...

I second what Lefeb and Jusad say. We have no concept or understanding of sin or of ourselves "coram deo" our lives before God and being accountable to Him. I drove by a little country Baptist church this morning and the sign said, "Beg God for Forgiveness." Indeed...

Lefebvrian said...


The Pater Noster is not a John Lennon song.

Revolution is always disordered because it seeks to disrupt and overthrow the civil authority as ordered by God. The Pater Noster suggests a counter-revolution insofar as it asks God to establish His order on earth as it is in heaven.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

To defend Good Fr.; McDonald from his unreasonable detractors here, "I mentioned I have always tried to present this teaching in a coherent way and then ask adult Catholics to be adult about it" does not imply condoning sin. It is a realization that he cannot control what others choose to do. And in most cases, I don't think he or any spiritually and emotionally healthy priest wants to or thinks he can control what adults do.

We proclaim the Good News, which is really Good news. but it is up to those who hear the Good News to accept it and make it a part of their lives.

Today's Gospel reminds us, "Jesus said to them in reply, 'My mother and my brothers
are those who hear the word of God and act on it.'"

Lefebvrian said...

Just to clarify, I am not trying to detract Fr. McDonald in any of my posts above. In the first one, I was responding to his question. He asked, and I answered. If he didn't want such responses, he wouldn't have asked for them.

I agree that it is our job to spread the Gospel. And that's why we have to tell people the truth about things even if it is difficult. Simply telling people to make an adult decision doesn't cut it.

In my subsequent comments directed at him, I was joking with him just as he was joking with me.

Lefebvrian said...

Interestingly, in today's Gospel according to the Roman Calendar, since it is the feast of a confessor-bishop, we read about the man with the five talents. In the Gospel, we are admonished to be faithful in the little things and not to be miserly about the faith. We are reminded of our duty to spread the Truth in this way, boldly and lovingly in total reliance upon God.

Jdj said...

Fr. MJK, yes indeed, exactly so. Thank you for the "KISS" (Keep It Simple Stupid)!

John Nolan said...

KISS, or 'Occam's Razor' (after William of Ockham 1287-1347 but common in scholastic writings and can be traced back to Aristotle) can be rendered in Latin as 'pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate'. The excellent modern acronym has a long pedigree.

Calvin of Hippo said...

Unfortunately, the simplest explanation is not always the correct one.