Friday, September 25, 2015


My father was a very conservative, traditional pre-Vatican II Catholic. Before and after Vatican II which type of Christmas card did he prefer to send to friends and family?

If you picked the first one, the secular one, you are right. In fact, because of my father's preferences in this regard, I still get warm fuzzies looking at the first one and actually prefer it on an emotional/nostalgic level compared to the religious one.

I asked my father why he preferred secular Christmas cards and he said quite bluntly that he did not know the religious practice of his secular friends and did not want to proselytize them if they didn't observe Christmas as we do.  And in addition, he said there was nothing wrong with the secular depiction of Christmas (at that time) if we didn't forget what Christmas was all about in our home but we didn't have to hit others over the head with our religious devotions.

The point I am making is that most pre-Vatican II Catholics saw their faith as personal and private and that its devotional aspects were only expressed in a religious setting such as a church, primarily at Mass and church devotions and on church grounds.

In the secular world, you were a good person, but did not discuss your faith. It was private. You didn't bash your faith either and if necessary you certainly defended your faith.

And quite frankly, most rank and file Catholics prior to Vatican II believed that if you were a good person, even though not religious, God would embrace you and bring you to heaven. This is popular piety or belief that the more rigid Catholics would not agree as it isn't completely orthodox and most Protestants would condemn outright!

But we were not like those Protestants who seem to wear their religion on their sleeve and any chance they got they spoke of Jesus and got religious conversations going in secular settings. Catholics who grew up in predominantly Catholic parts of the country are often shocked by Protestants in the south who are so aggressive and vocal about their faith and start religions conversations in secular settings.

I have to wonder with all the negative comments about Pope Francis (some I have posted, but most I have not and I have revised my comment warning and will be stricter in enforcing it, so please note) in that he didn't belabor abortion as pointedly as the death penalty and that he never used the word Christ or Jesus but rather God because he was invited by a secular government to speak and did so in this secular setting in a fashion that was not overtly Catholic or proselytizing. My pre-Vatican II father would have approved!

I can remember the first time I saw Catholics acting like Protestants in terms of wearing their religion on their sleeve. It was Augusta in the late 1960's and involved those who converted to the Catholic charismatic movement which led many of them to move completely to Pentecostal Protestantism. In other words there was an ill-informed ecumenism that caused many Catholics to sell-out to Protestant forms of public and private piety.

They were the ones acting like Protestants, saying "Praise the Lord" all the time, which is a term I have come to despise because of them using it so often around others and at every turn, and they also liked to wear big crosses around their necks to make sure everyone knew they were Christian!

I was taught by my father that when we wear religious articles, like a cross or scapular around our neck that in a secular setting, we hide it under our clothes. I was chastised as a small child by my father when I wore a Rosary around my neck and wanted to go with my parents shopping with it on!

And traditionally when bishops and cardinals are wearing their black suit (not their cassock) they place their pictorial cross into the pocket of their suit coat so that  all one sees is the gold chain going sideways across their chest!

Please note how the late Cardinal George is wearing the pectoral cross with a secular suit:
So, I wonder how many of my commenters who complained that Pope Francis didn't use the name of Jesus in Congress or explicitly refer to the Catholic Church (never mind that His Holiness uses it in 99% of his public settings and refers to being Catholic the majority of the time!) aren't converts from Protestantism and still have a Protestant devotional theology about sharing one's faith in an overt way even in secular settings to"win others over for Christ" as they are wont to say?


Dave said...

Food for thought:

This is the link to Pope Benedict's speech to the United Nations in 2008. It's the closest equivalent to Francis's speech in DC -- Benedict never spoke to Congress, of course.

Benedict never mentioned abortion by name -- although like Francis, he referred to "life."

And he never specifically mentioned gay marriage -- although he referred to "the family."

He did say this: "Questions of security, development goals, reduction of local and global inequalities, protection of the environment, of resources and of the climate, require all international leaders to act jointly and to show a readiness to work in good faith, respecting the law, and promoting solidarity with the weakest regions of the planet."

And he said this: "The desire for peace, the quest for justice, respect for the dignity of the person, humanitarian cooperation and assistance – express the just aspirations of the human spirit, and constitute the ideals which should underpin international relations."

He did mention Jesus once, in his next-to-last sentence, but mentioned God four times. So, 80 percent God, 20 percent Jesus. (Francis mentioned God nine times.)

I've said for a long time that the differences between Francis and his two predecessors are more style than substance. It is like comparing (and I say this with respect to all six men) Jeb and George and George W. Bush. You will see superficial differences, but they are far outweighed by the family resemblance.

Jusadbellum said...

I think a lot of the heartburn can be the lost in translation bit.

But there's also the political impact heartburn.... Democrats are never shy about condemning the imposition of faith on people - that's Joe Biden's excuse for why he can't possibly "impose" his "de fide" belief that human life starts at conception on the country....but absolutely no problem imposing his belief about gay marriage or welfare on the country.

If the Pope is calling for the US to continue to run up our debt and deficit by flinging open our borders and accepting everyone who can stumble across the border... and instantly sign them up for the whole raft of wealth transfers: food stamps, housing assistance, public education, healthcare, etc... then he's asking us to accelerate the mathematical certainty of us hitting a debt wall.

And that's a problem.

See, with $19 trillion in debt held at 2%, we must pay our creditors $221 BILLION per year just to cover bond payments. That's 6% of our annual budget ($3.5T) but almost 10% of our annual tax income (2.5 trillion). So we borrow 1 Trillion per year but pay $221 billion in interest. Anyone see the problem? No you know why the Fed can't raise interest rates? Now you know why the dollar is constantly losing purchase power and a 1960 dollar bought what it takes $20 today? Who hurts the most when savings accounts return less than 1% in interest and inflation runs at 2% per year? The poor and middle class. The very people we're supposed to love and care for.

So the problem is that in the name of short term or immediate crisis, we are mortgaging away our future if not lighting the fuse to national catastrophic collapse. If cutting the rate of growth is impossible (and every time Paul Ryan suggests reducing the rate of growth from 7 to 4% the nuns on the bus freak out) what happens when the actual federal budget is actually cut back to what taxes alone can sustain? Who gets hurt the worst? those utterly and totally dependent on government wealth transfers!

And no one will answer this dilemma because I suppose no one wants to face the reality as there's no good way out of this. We could tax all the 'evil rich' at 100% and still not close the budget deficit. We could eliminate the entire Department of Defense and still not balance the budget.

A little bit of appreciation for this by the Pope or bishops or others would go a long way to reassuring the wealth creators that we're in good hands. That we're not being encouraged to walk off the cliff.

Dave said...

Jusadbellum, Biden can't impose his opinion on either abortion or gay marriage on anybody.

We have a court system that interprets our Constitution and votes on how it should be applied.

Like it or not, that's how the US has worked for 200-plus years.

Jusadbellum said...

Dave, think really hard on what a Vice President can do...

He most certainly can promote or dissuade from a given policy by who he promotes to federal level positions (personnel is policy). If you are personally against abortion do you routinely and as par for the course hire only people affiliated with Planned Parenthood to all your executive positions?

If you are against the LGBTQ movement's drive to normalize sodomy (still a sin crying to heaven for vengeance) do you encourage the military to promote known gays and lesbians?

Ditto with Congress - if you are against something you have a hundred indirect ways to affect outcomes short of a law. Much of it involves the placement of key personnel in the civil service bureaucracy...which is HOW the LGBTQ and pro-aborts got to their positions in the first place: they were chosen for their ideological commitment and put in places where they could have maximum impact.

Really.... the idea that US policy is exclusively handled by laws passed by Congress or cases from SCOTUS is so absurd I don't know where to begin.

Dave said...

Jusadbellum, what you're describing -- promoting or dissuading, etc. -- is the art of politics, not the vice president "imposing his will." Furthermore, as vice president, I don't know that he hires anybody for executive positions, except his personal staff.

I was responding to your original post, which accused Mr. Biden of "imposing his belief about gay marriage...." yada yada.

As usual, your words are fuzzy and subject to change when challenged.

Jusadbellum said...

David, he was a senator before he was VP.

Men have all manner of ways of advancing their deeply held beliefs. He was the one who pre-empted the President to support gay marriage, to not defend DOMA, to promote gay activists to all levels throughout the federal branch, the military etc...

So if he really is genuinely "a faithful Catholic" who is pro-life, why doesn't he similarly work by hook and crook to advance the culture of life as much as he's done to advance the culture of death?

As for imposing.... Contraception was imposed on the country via SCOTUS. Abortion was too and now gay marriage. But all the imposition was preceded by Congress and the Executive branch appointing known activists to key positions...

When secular hedonists want something, they don't stop out of concern about imposing their private "faith-based" opinions. They move straight ahead to implementing those changes in the name of "progress". But suddenly they will excuse themselves from action when the topic is the defense of innocent life or purity or defense of marriage. Then suddenly they can't imagine how to proceed without crossing some nefarious "line" of "imposing" their viewpoints.

Anonymous said...

Father, what have you to say about this claim of a secret "mafia" group opposing Pope Benedict, perhaps forcing his resignation, and wanting Pope Francis to make the church "modern", i.e., no sin for the pelvic issues.

George said...


Joe Biden is a prominent Catholic in a position to influence a lot of people by what he says and does.
It is not a good thing when such a public figure supports or advocates for positions which are contrary to Church teaching. In fact, at any period of time when decency, honor, and faithfulness to God were more prevalent, it would have been considered to be at the very least,extemely scandalous. Throughout the history of the Catholic Church there have been many persons of prominance who gave their very lives in defense of her Sacred and Divinelyrevealed teachings.

How can holding a position of importance and influence be so important to someone that it exceeds upholding by word and deed, the laws of God?

As for Pope benedict XVI's speech in 2008 before the United Nations, that was prior to the rise of ISIS,the U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, the revelations of what Planned Parenthood was up to, and more data coming out on the environment that called into question what those who supported Climat change theory wre saying.

Православный физик said...

The problem with those that do not wish to "impose their faith" or whatever the argument might be is that there's no way to be morally neutral. If one viewpoint isn't being "imposed" another one is.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, Father.... no comment about Danneels and the mafia club to oust Pope Benedict and install Francis?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Is it tablodism which I can't comment upon and if true (that Pope Benedict was force out rather than freely renouncing the papacy as he stated quite publicly)then I am quite dismayed that Pope Benedict is being made out to be a liar and even more dismayed that others are making Pope Benedict out to be a liar! Either way, sad news to say the least!

Anonymous said...

The National Catholic Register is tabloidism? It's owned by EWTN. Its one of the more respectable Catholic news agencies.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

And are they giving walking orders to the cardinals of the Church to do something about Pope Benedict lying to us about freely renouncing the papacy? Or are the laity to take matters into their own hands? Just wondering what the implications are for Pope Francis if Pope Benedict is proven to be a liar???????? Do you know, because I sure as heck don't. And if I did know, I, like you, like the Register are completely 100% powerless to do anything whatsoever. That is rather liberating isn't it? But if Pope Benedict is a liar, I hope he went to confession before he celebrated his first Mass after lying!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Face it, the Church hasn't changed much since the Borgias. It is enough to make a Pentecostal out of you.

Merry Montanist said...

Joe Potillor, in a pluralistic society, other can practice their faith without imposing on yours or vice versa.
As I've said before, if Father McDonald does not want to perform same-sex marriages. The government should leave him alone.
And if the Episcoploans down the the street wish to, the government (and Father McDonald) should leave them alone.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

But M & M, I leave people alone, especially the Episcopalians. But what about those who perform wedding of underage minors? There is a community in another state not too far off where girls as young as 10 get married and I've heard of it being performed by an ordained officiant. Should we leave that alone, the government and Church?

Merry Montanist said...

Father, you are changing the subject, since when we discuss gay marriage, we are presumably talking about two consenting adults. The example you bring up is obviously quite different. Child abuse, statutory rape, forced marriages -- these are not really comparable.

Anonymous said...

Well, then, as long as it is two consenting adults anything goes...sort of like Bonnie and Clyde. Man, ain't this a great country!!!