Tuesday, August 16, 2016


Bishop Barron is an excellent teacher. I have heard him in person and he is just what the doctor ordered for the Catholic Church in this country and at this time.

Father Francis Manion, who by all accounts is of that generation that helped create beige Catholicism, has a good article on Bishop Barron. Here are some of the money quotes with my comments at the end:

(Bishop) Barron has long lamented the split in pre-Vatican II Catholicism between the intellectual and the spiritual. This had led to a theology that was dry and unappealing, and a spirituality that lacked much substance and depth. Furthermore, he has lamented what he calls the “beige Catholicism” that developed after Vatican II. By this he meant a watered-down understanding of Catholicism that lacked conviction and was minimalistic in content and tone. “Beige Catholicism” sadly led to a colorless style of catechesis and liturgical practice. This sort of Catholicism allows the culture to set the agenda for the Church, and to underplay the power and beauty of the Catholic tradition.

My Comments:

The height of arrogant clericalism, which is on steroids in the academic community which sets the agenda for so much, is that intellectual Catholicism is so important and in fact more important than the spiritual aspects of the Church especially her popular piety.

It is here that Pope Francis hits the nail on the head and His Holiness has little room for academics who have helped to create the post-Vatican II beige Catholicism that Bishop Barron laments.

Perhaps some bishops and many theologians were unhappy in the pre-Vatican II Church because their causes were not front and center. But on the popular or populist level, we had nearly 98% of Catholics attending Mass each Sunday even though not that many availed themselves to Holy Communion, most going to Communion only a few times a year, but at Mass each Sunday!

Popular devotions and the use of sacramentals were at an all time high prior to Vatican II. The Holy Rosary was the most popular of popular devotions. But churches which held novenas and Benediction found hundreds of people attending either on a Sunday night or during the week.

Most Catholics knew the basics of the Faith from the Baltimore Catechism, if only from its first edition for primary grades.

What happened after Vatican II when the bishops turned the Church over to academic theologians and allowed them to rule the roost?

1. The Liturgy became dry, sterile, banal and creativity in planning liturgy and setting the theme for the liturgy became the norm. Children were encouraged to plan the liturgy and come up with good ideas (gimmicks) to make the Mass "relevant"to them!

2. A sober reform of the 1962 Liturgical books went array with the wholesale deformation of the Order of the Mass and rubrics that lacked clarity and general norms which in fact allowed for ad libs and substitutions of official texts in the Mass.

3. Norms for chants in the Mass were watered down and an anything goes mentality about what could be sung liturgically took over like wild fire.

4. The academics created a disdain for anything pre-Vatican II and rediculed Catholics who were not as smart as they and remained mired in the so-called "pre-Vatican II " Church.

5. The greatest insult and the worst evil in the Church was to be labeled pre-Vatican II especially if one's spirituality centered on devotions and apparitions.

Yes, the Church prior to Vatican II had rank and file bishops and priests who were authoritarian and treated the laity like children. Not all bishops and priest, but some. Compounding this was the fact that we had strong Catholic schools with strict nuns and brothers who teenage Catholics prior to Vatican II rebelled against as most teenagers do with authority figures. But for Catholics the rebellion was against religious authority and more so in Catholicism because of our strict schools than in Protestant denominations that don't have parochial schools.

The academics used their own version of post-Vatican II authoritarianism to shove their agenda down the throats of Catholics who prior to Vatican II trusted those in charge to lead them correctly.

Vatican II was shoved down the throats of Catholics in the most pre-Vatican II authoritarian sort of way--this is the cause of beige Catholicism today.


Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

There may have been another "split" in pre-Vatican II Catholicism. Consider the interplay between these ideas:

I. "(Bishop) Barron has long lamented the split in pre-Vatican II Catholicism between the intellectual and the spiritual. This had led to a theology that was dry and unappealing, and a spirituality that lacked much substance and depth."

II. "Popular devotions and the use of sacramentals were at an all time high prior to Vatican II."

Prior to the middle 1900's, the time of the "all time high" in the popularity of sacramentals, Catholic theologians were almost universally clerics. They were the ones with substantial understanding of and appreciation for the rich theological traditions of the Church. These were, for the laity, the "Pay, Pray, and Obey" Days when a run of the mill in-the-pew Catholic with no religious education beyond the Baltimore Catechism No. 3, and none was familiar with Latin beyond memorized responses used exclusively in church.

[Yes, there were the rare individual lay men and (gasp!) women who were well-versed in the theological sciences, but they were the exception.]

Consider also that it was in the post-WWII era (which is the two decade before the opening of Vat II) when many American men, including a very high percentage of Catholics, with GI Bill (the Serviceman's Readjustment Act of 1944)financing began going to college in much high numbers. The Catholics became the educated class. As the level of education increased, pietistical practices decreased.

Now, I am not suggesting that novenas and other popular devotions are only for the poorly or the less educated. But there are parallels that suggest there may be a causal link. I suspect there has been research. Anyone know?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

FrMJK, you make my point. The more educated person tends to leave behind the Catholic Faith in its entirety and through the actual sin of pride, (the Original Sin, btw) sets his own plans and desires above that of God.

Academics and those who consider themselves better educated are satisfied with a sterile Catholicism and see spirituality as an intellectual pursuit. Sentimentality of private revelations or popular devotions are beneath their level of education.

So too is obedience to the Magisterium, in fact obedience is disdained.

Thus we have what Bishop Barron laments, beige Catholicism and yes, there is a direct link to making Catholicism an intellectual or academic pursuit rather than a loving relationship between Creator and created. The chasm of Original Sin is perpetuated in such people who think they know better than God or Church, or think intellectual religious pursuits can substitute for an actual relationship with God obedient to what He actually reveals.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Today's first reading for daily Mass from Ezekiel is exactly the problem with academics!

Jusadbellum said...

There's no such thing as a "watered down" academic or high intelligent thing. If you water something down you don't make it more sophisticated or nuanced but less.

Thus all the pap we've been fed by so-called "brilliant" theologians like the Currans and McCormacks of the world is not brilliant or smart or even very well read. It's smarmy BS that any second year philosophy student will pick up on the moment they note the equivocal use of words and definitions and the rhetorical sleight of hands used to wave away Tradition and sound doctrine in the name of nebulous reasons like "well the times have changed". As I keep pointing out: "the times" is just whatever the elite of any given society happen to think.

"the times" is just people. Nothing magical about "the times". And there's nothing metaphysically special about leaders in a given society. They're just as human as the rest of us. So why we must bow down and cater to the whims and vices of the 1% of our society on account of their changing habits has always baffled me. None of our ancestors did this. They instead preached truth to this power and CHANGED the elites. That's what reform is: a change of heart.

It's true that the elites rule society. It's true that they're powerful enemies and powerful allies. But just as might does not equal the right, so too their influence is not something to be sought at all cost. Especially the cost of anyone's soul and healthy relationship with God through the Church.

Vatican II's implementation has been decidedly cowardly vis a vis the elite (the times) as they sought "relevance" etc. but did little to actually change (i.e. evangelize) this society, these people.

It's no wonder so many of our clergy (as high as 2%?) turned out to be unmanly pedophiles and perhaps another 5% are currently gay...and that another 2-3% left the priesthood to run off and 'find themselves'.... it was a general abdication of manliness and virtue. A general REFUSAL TO TAKE THE BULL - THE ELITE SOCIETY - BY THE HORNS AND CHANGE THEM with the power of the Gospel rather than look to this elite opinion set and reorient the entire moral and doctrine of the Church to better "reflect" and be "relevant" to this ever changing set of whims.

The complacency, the fait accompli, the resignation to the status quo is either the effect of weariness and old age or the effect of a lack of manliness and virtue - courage to pick up the cross and save souls through the cross.

You wonder why lay people are running off half cocked on either side of the spectrum? It's because we are orphans. We have little or no father-figures in the Church to look up to that will boldly speak to our hearts about the power of the Gospel rather than the power of the world, flesh, and devil.

So I don't accept Bishop Barron's claim that post-Vatican II was too much intellectualism and not enough piety. The problem was both a LACK of actual sophisticated, adult Catholicism (Kumbaya masses and coloring book catechism for K-12 and outright heresy in college and seminary - heresy catering to the ever shifting FEELINGS of the "the times") AND a STUPID DISDAIN of piety.

So not either/or but BOTH./AND.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

FrAJM - That there are many, many educated persons who have not left behind their Catholic faith proves your assertion to be wrong. Education does not lead to a loss of faith; there is no direct link.

The attempt to pin loss of faith on one item - education, poverty, illness, trauma, etc - is a Quixotic quest. Your statement " Academics and those who consider themselves better educated are satisfied with a sterile Catholicism and see spirituality as an intellectual pursuit." is simply another over generalization of the type you and those who seek simple solutions to complex problems fall prey to.

TJM said...

Father Kavanaugh,

Men and women I know who are far more intellectually superior to you or I with advanced degrees go to Benediction, 40 years, etc. Why do liberals always paint with a broad brush and try to put everyone into their little "category?" Sounds like Marxist thinking to me.

TJM said...

meant to say "40 hours."

Jusadbellum said...

My contention is that all the PhDs in the world, all the proofs of successfully passing an exam, are nothing if the person involved is a heretic because that is prima fascia evidence of a failure of right reason.

All heresies - and heterodox "theology" is at root a failure to distinguish or a failure to define one's terms and stick to it consistently. Pick your poison. Pick your heresy and the heretic might be clever, might be astute, might be educated but the new gospel they preach is refutable and typically - if you read the historical account - it's relatively easy for even simple folk to refute their reasoning and argumentation.

Heresies take flight not due to stellar intellectual firepower but because they become associated with secular elite power which uses the heresies to further their ambitious worldly aims.

So Curran's defense of artificial contraception and the general sexual revolution: it was part and parcel of the secular elite's quest to undermine Christian morality (and the Church) so as to further advance the cause of either the Progressive Socialists or the Marxist socialist ambitions. They can't have their revolution until the people are generally disposed to reject the past and the faith and embrace the various vices and passions deemed best for manipulation.

But the argument itself? Where's the firepower in Curran's actual argument?

We bow down because the cool kids want X and saying no to them carries real risk not just to reputations but to our lives. But that doesn't mean they're standing on the unassailable intellectual highground.

Arius and Pelagius (both priests) efforts were largely successful during their lifetimes and allowed their secular followers great advantages but neither heresy is particularly 'brilliant' or cogent when looked at by the light of day and the entire Gospel.

So it goes- we've faced not an "enlightenment" but an endarkenment since the 1960s. We're not dealing with a sexual revolution and associated Progressive Catholicism replete with intellectual powerhouses but rather a united secular front that provides protection and a platform to these Catholic cheerleaders to speak from.

Anonymous said...

Fr. K: "These were, for the laity, the "Pay, Pray, and Obey" Days when a run of the mill in-the-pew Catholic with no religious education beyond the Baltimore Catechism No. 3, and none was familiar with Latin beyond memorized responses used exclusively in church."

It is always a mistake to generalize, most particularly if one wasn't there.
1. How familiar with Latin were we? My public (no parochial school within 50 miles) high school in a rural community REQUIRED two years of Latin for graduation when I matriculated in the sixties. Believe me, at the time I didn't understand the purpose until later in college and medical school! Did it help my "pew" spirituality? Not much. "Memorized responses" back then in the EF, just as they are now in the vernacular OF, were/are formulaic and require little-to-no thought.

2. How much "religious education" and using what Catechism does the average pew-sitter today receive? Just asking..

Anonymous said...

Secularization was coming no matter what V-2 would decide.

Nevertheless, the Council engendered a greater disaster for Catholicism as a religion and hence for Catholic culture at large, because the modernist faction of Council theologian forces hijacked the proceedings from the get go. They grabbed the microphone from the older generation, silenced all opposition, and wrote what ever they wanted and in what ever way they wanted.

It was a revolution. Period. For example, they sold the idea that doctrine can be changed and that that it will always be evolving (Mobilism); they relativized and obfuscated former teachings that before were held to be absolutes. Benedict XVI tried to fix things by teaching that the Council documents must be interpreted in line with constant Tradition. Well, we have Amoris Laetitia, back to the revolution.

The present Catholic liturgy with he exception of the EF Mass is in line with the modernist interpretations of V-2 documents. Bishop Baron is well situated to lead a new Counter-reformation. He is not alone wanting to reform of the reform but he will need a Pope and a greater number of the Cardinals who feel as he does and---willing to commit to that most worthy project.

Victor said...

I do not see any split between the intellectual and spiritual in pre-Vatican II Catholicism, and, personally, whoever holds this opinion does not know what he is talking about. The pressures on pre-Vatican II Catholicism were on the intellectual side, not spiritual. Modernism was gaining ground and yet Vatican II did not address it adequately if it addressed it at all, and following the Council the Church virtually capitulated to it and the spiritual side of Catholics suffered immensely. That call for aggiornamento, or updating of the Church, opened the window to all sorts of abuses that contaminated the spiritual after the Council. Once the intellectual side was conquered, the spiritual just side fell apart.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Vatican II did not invent the idea that doctrine is always evolving. A study of the history of any doctrine reveals that this has always been the case. Councils, theologians (sainted and un-sainted), bishops, have contributed to the growth of our understanding of Divine Revelation (that's what it means to say doctrine evolves) since the first New Testament author put pen to papyrus (or vellum or whatever medium he was writing on.) Divine Truth doesn't evolve; our understanding of that Truth, which we express as doctrine, does.

Unknown said...

The root of it all in 2016 or 1916 - or for that matter in 1816 - is Modernism; not just at work in an intelligent, well-informed, and highly motivated laity, but most especially in a half-baked, indifferent, or tasteless clergy. One example is the anti-Catholic notion that: We have a reasonable hope that all men are saved; moral reason, intellectual study, and well-formed conscience along with the witness of the Catholic Faith tells us this is not so. So the stark and even garish colours of the Catholic Reform, the Catholic Renaissance, the Catholic 'Enlightenment' (of post-Roman Western Europe), and of Catholic Classical culture all rise up and shout out against the dull muddying influence of our Post-Enlightenment darkness; the active intellect not less than the devout heart accuses the monochrome blandness that marks out so much of the modern libertine culture embraced by so many Catholic clerics and imposed callously on the Catholic Church .. in an almost totally anti-intellectual manner (that is, thoughtlessly yet deliberately - as in the joy of mere vandalism, wild and methodical as it is).

After all, what does it truly matter if educated Catholics require that all things of importance to the Faith are considered to look, seem or be wrought of the same abstracted concrete melange (being very much like everything else any way), and all as a matter of worldly ideological demand - when we have a reasonable hope that all men are saved (including the destroyers, obfuscators and blancmange-makers themselves, naturally enough)?

johnnyc said...

That strict Catholic discipline through the schools and Nuns came in handy though when one finally grew up. They passed on the True Faith so that when you did get serious about your Faith there it was.....the One True Church founded by Jesus Christ. Of course you had to get through the smoke and fog of the liberals but the Faith that the Nuns taught was there all along. Unfortunately many of those same Nuns lost their way due to the liberals and the 'spirit' of Vatican II. Much damage was done to the Church by that 'spirit' and though they are growing old and fading we still see liberal clergy of that age and their followers teaching what people with itching ears want to hear.

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. 2 Tim 4:1-5

Rood Screen said...

Barron is certainly popular, but if you notice, he never states clearly that Christ alone is the savior, that the Catholic Church is necessary for salvation, or that unrepentant sinners go to hell. He's also ambivalent about the Roman liturgical tradition.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Bishop Barron on the Centrality of Jesus:

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

I'm not crazy about Fr. Barron...oh, excuse me, Bishop Barron. He was here at the major seminary in Mundelein in Illinois for a long time, so we heard a lot from him in these parts, before he was famous. I tuned in to his radio program "Word on Fire" sometimes. I didn't care for it much. Then he produced the series, "Catholicism" and I tried to watch, but something very subtle bothered me about how he presented things. Something seemed to be just a tiny bit off somehow. I stopped listening to his take on things because I felt there were subtle errors in what he had to say. Besides, I know the seminary in Mundelein reeks with "progressives," so I guess I just figured "birds of a feather..."

So when Fr. Barron speaks, I usually change the channel... :-)


Anonymous said...

Have all these bishops, priests, nuns etc who are hell bent on changing the Catholic Faith into something it is not, have they actually read the documents of Vatican II. I don't understand what has happened.

I have read all the documents and they are profoundly beautiful and orthodox. I don't get it. Example, after Vactican II devotion to Our Lady was largely abandoned. Why? The section on Our Lady is wonderful and no where calls for her place to be diminished.

And no where in the documents are adandonment of Catholic identity elements like religious habits mentioned, nor is Commumion in the hand, extra ordinary ministers of the Eucharist, removal of communion rails, abandonment of meatless Friday's or women wearing chapel veils. None of the stuff that is so polarizing is even mentioned. So how did the complete destruction of "Catholitcity" in entire generations of Catholics happen.

I don't understand the mentality of bishops, priests etc who are really ashamed of being "too Catholic". I LOVE being a Catholic. I don't want to be a Protestant or a Jew if I did I would join them. Likewise I don't want to be an Episcopalian either. I want to be a Roman Catholic is that to much to ask. I want to go into a Catholic Church and actually feel like I am in a Catholic Church. That means a special reverence in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, which by the way is totally gone. SILENCE SILENCE SILENCE. Please why can't people shut up for 45 minutes on a Sunday. Is is really that hard to show manners for 45 minutes, once a week.

Can't something be done to stop the bleeding. I want reverent, orderly, devout celebrations of the Mass. I would even settle for a a priest who took the time to shave and comb his hair to just say whT is in the missal. Stop improvising. Newsflash to all the priests out are not the best and the brightest and you are not the bestetest thing in the history of the world. And if I wanted to go see a comedy show I would go to a comedy show. Stop the jokes and the comedy routines. They are not funny, they are disturbing. Just say the Mass reverently and tell me about Jesus not yourself. I don't care about your vacation. I want to hear about the gospel, the saints, the teaching of the Church that Christ established for the salvation of my soul. It's not about you fathers it's about the Cross.

Tony V said...

Whatever we think of Bishop Barron's analysis, the fact is that another bishop, and one who's been perceived as irenic to 'progressives' at that, has politely criticised the implementation of Vatican II. Sooner or later, the hierarchy will have to provide an honest critique of not only the implementation of Vatican II but its content as well. I'd suggest starting with Lumen Gentium, which tells us that the role of the laity is 'prompt obedience' to the decisions of the hierarchy. Ultimately, we're going to have to do the same with the unfortunate documents of Vatican I.

@NO D: If by 'modernism' you mean the notion that mankind is progressing morally (through its own insights), then I'd agree. If you mean 'modernism' in the sense used by Pius IX and X, then there's a problem. Their condemnations of what they called 'modernism' were often, to be blunt, wrong. (As an aside: we may see the anti-modernist oath as a precedent for the insistence that swearing allegiance to Vatican II be a prerequisite for reconciliation of groups like the SSPX.)

Fr MKJ's initial observations are interesting and I'd agree that spiritual pride often comes with education. I think he's looking too much at the American experience, though; what he says doesn't necessarily apply to Catholicism elsewhere. And I think 'pietistical processes' declined (precipitously) as a direct result of the way Vatican II was implemented, regardless of changes in educational levels.

@Jusadbellum: I'm guessing your 5% was a typo, and that you meant 50%? I agree the NO is more attractive to priests who are homosexual, since for many an element of exhibtionism is part of their syndrome--that's why so many male actors are homosexuals. But homosexuality has been a problem in the clergy long before Vatican II. Some of it has to do with celibacy and throwing a bunch of males together (think of the British Navy, or English public schools, or American prisons)--though homosexuality is also more prevalent among married non-Catholic clergy than in the general population, probably for the reason already noted. And lest we remain too reductionistic, there's the dimension of supernatural warfare to consider.

TJM said...


Mundelein (named after the great George Cardinal Mundelein) improved immeasurably under Cardinal George's guidance. Although not very conservative it is not the left-wing managerie that it was under Bernadin. Bishop Barron seems very middle of the road to me, very careful in his statements. I agree with you about his TV series. I stopped watching it.

rcg said...

I don't like chosing favorites or sniping on clergy. Now Bishop Barron's series on Catholicism was intended as much for non-Catholics as Catholics so I am not surprised that it was sort "soft" for this audience. He had a segment on Saint Thérèse of Lisieux that was off-putting, but I have a YouTube playlist of Bishop Fulton Sheen to suit my tastes.

As far as priests and bishops go, I dance with the one that brung me. They can do some pretty strange stuff before they run me off. As I get older I am less likely to let them get away with some things, i.e. Spirit of Vatican II, unchallenged. As a layman I have to take a Socratic engagement tactic out of respect for their office.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Tony V - What leads you to think that, "...'pietistical processes' declined (precipitously) as a direct result of the way Vatican II was implemented,..."

John Nolan said...

Tony V

Actually, sodomy was rare in the British Navy (it would have been difficult to conceal aboard a man-of-war and such was the revulsion in which it was held throughout the Service that it was the only crime for which the death penalty was invariably applied; see NAM Rodger 'The Wooden World - An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy')

Jusadbellum said...

Tony V, I have no evidence that 50% of clergy are gay. I find that highly unlikely. But might it be higher than 5%? Possibly. Certainly in many seminaries throughout the US in the 1980s and early 1990s the number of gay seminarians were certainly high AND we know a lot of the gay bishops had their own circles of favored guys whom they groomed and helped advance throughout the hierarchy.

Wiki assembles various sources that put the number in the US from 15% to has high as 58% so maybe that's where you got your idea of half of priests being gay.

I really don't think it's that high but I do think there are certainly at least 5% who are homosexual (2x the national average).

The younger guys....I tend to think are likely to be more heterosexual than their older peers.

Anon-1 said...

Tony V

Pius iX/X were not wrong on defining modernism. The problem is still the same today: too many think that doctrine evolves not to better elucidate a truth but actually to change truth, incrementally but deliberately to suit the demands of the times. The latter is what we witness one way or another in post V-2 catechesis. Amores Laetitia is the latest example; or the current push for deaconesses, then latter female priestly ordinations as the ultimate goal (impossible as we know).

rcg said...

Fr. MJK, I do think that the education process is strongly linked do a decrease in Faith. The most educated people in ages past often contributed the most to our library of Catholic prayers, so a solid education can assist greatly to composing our thoughts on God and His Church. So what went wrong? I believe it is in the nature of education and the reduction of rational thought to simple syllogisms without context that has damaged it. Instead f becoming more aware of the wonder around us and developing a mature respect and awe we have named everything and concluded that we can, therefore, control it.

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

TJM, maybe you're right about Mundelein improving under Cardinal George. I don't know really. I was familiar with it in the Bernadin days, and very dismayed at what I heard there (attended talks there a few times. Knew what sort of guys were coming out of there: in classes with them at Loyola, etc.) And I did know Barron was a Cardinal George appointment, but figured it could be like the Fr. Pfleger fiasco. (meaning, why didn't Card. George fix that? Always made me wonder about George.) Since Pfleger was allowed to continue as is, I just assumed the seminary kept a lot of their staff too and it was business as usual.

I do sense Barron is more centrist, but I hear a sort of spin on his stuff, a "reinterpretation," like he's trying to make the Gospel fit modern sensibilities, instead of the other way around.

I just can't listen to Barron. Something's just a bit off.


Paul said...

I asked my wife last night: what is it like to be married to a Catholic intellectual or at least a pseudo Catholic intellectual? She replied: well, often it can be interesting what you say, at other times it can get bloody tiring.


John Nolan said...

Fr Kavanaugh

The decline in 'popular devotions' from the mid-1960s onwards is attributable to a number of causes. Some which might be considered are:-

1. Evening Masses. Not many priests would want to do 'Rosary, Sermon and Benediction' at 4 pm on a Sunday and then go on to say Mass at 6.

2. The vernacular Mass with hymns. Cardinal Heenan wrote in a foreword to a Catholic hymnal in 1965 that 'the Mass is now the popular devotion'. Already there was a blurring between the liturgical and the non-liturgical.

3. The influence of the Liturgical Movement which saw popular devotions as an inferior substitute for lay participation in liturgical prayer, in particular Vespers.

4. A certain mindset (arising partly from the liturgical changes) which over- stressed the communal meal aspect of the Mass and (consciously or unconsciously) evinced a decidedly low-church Protestant approach to worship generally. I remember reading in the 1970s of a US seminary professor who referred to Eucharistic adoration as 'cookie worship'. It was this 'hermeneutic of rupture' which Benedict XVI singled out for censure.

5. Greater leisure opportunities on Sundays which led to people attending the 'anticipated' Saturday evening Mass so that they could enjoy Sunday without religion getting in the way. Popular devotions tended to be on Sunday afternoon, and those who attended would also have heard Mass in the morning. My maternal grandfather (1885-1954) referred to lukewarm Catholics as 'bare Mass-goers'.

This said, I can't think of any church which does not have Stations of the Cross during Lent and Passiontide and lengthy Corpus Xi processions are still a feature of Catholic Europe. Also the 'Divine Mercy' cult and its attendant devotions seem to flourish in most parishes, and this did not exist until years after Vatican II.

TJM said...


Cardinal George, like a lot of us, would have been accused of being "racist" if he had removed Father Pfleger, a first rate loon by the way.

Father Kavanaugh,

Some priests following the Council denigrated pious practices like saying the Rosary, etc. It was widely reported in the news at the time that one priest was so full of himself that when preaching during Mass he flung the Rosary to the floor and said we will have "no more of that!" There were a lot of ecclesiastical bullies, and most were of the "progressive" sort like the loon I just mentioned. Benediction was also despised by many lefty priests, an hence, disappeared.

Gene said...

The issue is unbelief. Trying to analyze the "causes" and cultural events leading to it is a waste of time because that completely misses the point. The realm of culture, society, academics, and human intellect is contained in the milieu of a fallen world. Unbelief began in the Garden and has continued, pretty much unabated, ever since. The best treatment of this phenomenon, outside Holy Scripture, is Augustine's "City of God." The "cause?" I am reminded of that wonderful scene in "The Exorcist" (theologically not so great a movie, but he nailed it here), where the Jesuit Priest/Psychiatrist begins explaining the nature of the child's disorder to the old Exorcist as the Exorcist is preparing for his work. He begins by saying, "Father, so far, three personalities have been manifested." The Exorcist slams his hand on the desk and says, "There is only one!!"

Unknown said...

'Tony V said... @NO D: If by 'modernism' you mean the notion that mankind is progressing morally (through its own insights), then I'd agree etc' (above)'

I mean 'Modernism'/ modernism as the (irrational) rationalist type of philosophy reproved and finally condemned by popes from Gregory XVI to John XXIII. That is, the reason-defying rationality of Rousseau: 'Modernist, one who esteems modern times above antiquity', Correspondence (MD, 1769) - cited first in Littré's Dictionnaire, then resurrected by Périn with the quaint notion that the 'humanitarian tendencies of contemporary society' just about covers the term (recall that long gone 'modern' humanitarianism happily included the guillotine, starvation wage-slavery, brutally industrialised systems of schooling for the poor, high-explosive shells, the Gatling Gun, and collateral damage to civilians). Note well, modernity (as a human experience in the limits of time) was never (and could never) be condemned by the Church .. because it is a flittering yet captivating chimera - e.g. somewhere else all day yesterday, here today, gone by two o'clock tomorrow (if not before); it is the idolatry in a superstitious love of being 'modern' at all times (unless the mode does not appeal) that is condemned at all times .. however modern or passé or futuristic those times may (appear to) be (and whenever on considers them).

PS Modernism would be the actually condemned content of heretical, unorthodox or suspicious notions, e.g. by Pius IX, Vatican I, and Pius X. Whereas modernism would be the broad spectrum of the idolatrous ideologies that elevate a current mode above all else, as the sole or prevailing or necessary measure to be applied to .. well .. everything. This slippery broad spectrum of airy thought - via Kant, Schliermacher, Hegel, Harnack, Bultmann, Satre, Rahner, Boff, von Balthassar, et al, even Wojtyla, Ratzinger and Bergoglio etc (in various degrees or aspects) - has been reproved numerous times in various ways by Leo XIII, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council, even by John Paul II and Benedict XVI!

('As an aside: we may see the anti-modernist oath as a precedent for the insistence that swearing allegiance to Vatican II be a prerequisite for reconciliation of groups like the SSPX'; I trust not, Tony, though one can never tell. It seems that Pope Francis is set in his merry path of indifferentism (and even Indifferentism), whether regarding heterodox South American colleges or faithful Catholic priestly societies - except, perhaps, for the Friars of the Immaculate. From what I can see the only requirement re Vat II is that it is not to be unilaterally repudiated only critiqued carefully .. without an officially authoritative condemnation of the Council, by a future pope .. this, naturally enough, causes no probs to the heterodox, since they never really intended to apply its actual teaching on the pastoral issues of those times, now long, long ago, and in a different world setting, it does raise qualms for some faithful Catholics, who see both the documents and the application given them as problematic in doctrinal basis and who would prefer to have it all blissfully expunged - rather than have to deal with its wholly unnecessary mess.)

Jusadbellum said...

I like Bishop Barron and think his ministry is fine. If I have a quibble it's in 2 gray areas with respect to how he interprets Von Balthazar's understanding of 'final salvation'/empty hell and how he interprets the Murray/post-French Revolution 'settlement' whereby the Church de facto accepts secular republics as a good thing vs. accepts them as the best we can do for now.

When the Kings and nobility of Europe abandoned the faith (first de facto and later de juris) in the late 17th century via simple loss of faith or moral corruption or both, the Church had to face institutional extinction through the forced nationalization of all Church property. We don't often recognize that the dioceses and religious orders' bread and butter, the lion's share of their wealth came from RENT on their land holdings. The serfs rented land and paid the Church or monasteries 'rent'. It was typically 10% to the Church and 10% to the local noble and king.

Most lay people didn't give to "the collection plate" at Masses in Europe. They might give to itinerant missionaries but that was considered "alms". The Cathedrals and huge monasteries weren't built much less sustained by alms.

Once the social order was overthrown and all those lands and facilities were seized, the STATE (in France and later in virtually all European countries) took over the property and rents and then would pay church leaders a stipend. That essentially bought off the Church at the ground level.

The same process has taken 200 years but it's happening in the US too. Once the government subsumes areas that used to be exclusive ministries of the Church it will never give them back: thus education, healthcare, and ministry to the poor used to be exclusive domains of the Church which had HUGE social and political implications as peoples' allegiances were forged to the Church through these ministries. Once the state seized and began operating all these areas as a benevolent gesture of the State's awesomeness....the ties people had to the Church became less and less organic and more and more confessional/optional.

This is where Barron seems to have some blind spots but then so do most priests and bishops who seem only too happy to have the state take over healthcare, social security, education, and assistance to the poor, oblivious to the implications these moves have on their flock.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Barron on whether hell is densely populated: "So who has it right in regard to this absolutely crucial question? Even as I deeply appreciate (Ralph) Martin’s scholarship and fully acknowledge that he scores important points against both Balthasar and Rahner, I found his central argument undermined by one of his own footnotes. In a note buried on page 284 of his text, Martin cites some “remarks” of Pope Benedict XVI that have contributed, in his judgment, to confusion on the point in question. He is referring to observations in sections 45-47 of the Pope’s 2007 encyclical "Spe Salvi," which can be summarized as follows: There are a relative handful of truly wicked people in whom the love of God and neighbor has been totally extinguished through sin, and there are a relative handful of people whose lives are utterly pure, completely given over to the demands of love. Those latter few will proceed, upon death, directly to heaven, and those former few will, upon death, enter the state that the Church calls Hell. But the Pope concludes that “the great majority of people” who, though sinners, still retain a fundamental ordering to God, can and will be brought to heaven after the necessary purification of Purgatory. Martin knows that the Pope stands athwart the position that he has taken throughout his study, for he says casually enough, “The argument of this book would suggest a need for clarification.”

Obviously, there is no easy answer to the question of who or how many will be saved, but one of the most theologically accomplished popes in history, writing at a very high level of authority, has declared that we oughtn't to hold that Hell is densely populated. To write this off as “remarks” that require “clarification” is precisely analogous to a liberal theologian saying the same thing about Paul VI’s teaching on artificial contraception in the encyclical "Humanae Vitae." It seems to me that Pope Benedict’s position – affirming the reality of Hell but seriously questioning whether that the vast majority of human beings end up there – is the most tenable and actually the most evangelically promising.

johnnyc said...

Liberals of the 'spirit' of Vatican II variety held disdain for popular devotions because they envisioned a more protestant church. They looked to separate Jesus from His Church, the Catholic Church much like protestants. They derisively labeled Faithful Catholics pray, pay and obey Catholics. Of course all three we are commanded to do in Scripture.

Anonymous said...

There is a good essay from Cardinal Avery Dulles on the question of whether there are many in hell or not. He concludes:

"Today a kind of thoughtless optimism is the more prevalent error. Quite apart from what theologians teach, popular piety has become saccharine. Unable to grasp the rationale for eternal punishment, many Christians take it almost for granted that everyone, or practically everyone, must be saved. The Mass for the Dead has turned into a Mass of the Resurrection, which sometimes seems to celebrate not so much the resurrection of the Lord as the salvation of the deceased, without any reference to sin and punishment. More education is needed to convince people that they ought to fear God who, as Jesus taught, can punish soul and body together in hell (cf. Matthew 10:28).

The search for numbers in the demography of hell is futile. God in His wisdom has seen fit not to disclose any statistics. Several sayings of Jesus in the Gospels give the impression that the majority are lost. Paul, without denying the likelihood that some sinners will die without sufficient repentance, teaches that the grace of Christ is more powerful than sin: “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20). Passages such as these permit us to hope that very many, if not all, will be saved.

All told, it is good that God has left us without exact information. If we knew that virtually everybody would be damned, we would be tempted to despair. If we knew that all, or nearly all, are saved, we might become presumptuous. If we knew that some fixed percent, say fifty, would be saved, we would be caught in an unholy rivalry."

rcg said...

Gene, was it unbelief? Or that we could challenge Our Creator in knowledge? That may seem like parsing but Satan thoroughly believes in God but also seems to believe he can challenge Him. He merely convinced us of the same and, now, here we are. Everything builds from that vain presumption and is merely repeated and collected as countless tiny building blocks for our prison cell in damnation.

As far as the numbers of saved, I know that I care but I also know the number is none of my business. I must not cause their loss through my actions or inactions and I must work to help resue them where I am competent to do so. I have always wanted to have a bar with good live music. I hope they have alcohol in heaven so I can fulfill my dream and the patronage will be those of who are mutually suprised to find each other there.

Jusadbellum said...

Fr. K please understand I have great respect for Pope Benedict and Pope Francis and indeed, any Pope and theologian. But....and this is utterly crucial: an assertion is not an argument.

An assertion "we have reasons to believe few are in hell" is not itself to elucidate those reasons! So until/unless Pope Benedict or anyone explicitly makes the case, we can't stand in awe of that assertion as more or less credible.

I presume we all, as Jesus' disciples, first look to Jesus' explicit words in the Gospel and only then to the epistles and other writings including the book of Revelation.

Our Lord's actual words certain gives us no reason to conclude hell is a threat to only a small number of exceptionally rare perverts while heaven is the general default destiny of most of us on the other two sides and summit of the bell curve of humanity.

Instead, the Lord's actual words paint a picture that hell is indeed a real threat, that the devil is indeed a real danger, and that we do indeed need to stand ever vigilant and sober before the real danger of falling into the hands of a wrathful God whose justice follows the day of Mercy as sure as night follows day.

To my knowledge and reading of both Von Balthazar and Rahner and B16, NONE OF THEM actually raise a cogent ARGUMENT from scripture or the Church fathers to back up their ASSERTIONS and guess and wishful thinking that God's so arranged human nature as to make it all but impossible for human beings to choose to reject God by rejecting their brothers and sisters on earth.

That we don't LIKE the concept of hell is neither here nor there. We're not supposed to "like" it or be "comfortable" with it! How could we? How could we like considering that a state of existence "created for the devil and his angels" might be a place where human souls could end up after our time of testing in this life is through? The condition of existing while not in union with God was originally created not for human souls but for malevolent angelic beings - so it is impossible to overstate the horror that hell represents. It's THE horror.

On the other hand, Jesus and his disciples are holding out the hope that in and through discipleship with Him, human souls have the grounded hope of experiencing THE hope of all human hearts which is found in fellowship with God alone.

It's beyond tiresome to point out that Popes and "great" theologians often fail to actually make case for their assertions. B16 is indeed a great theologian. So where Von Balthazar and Rahner. But that doesn't mean they were cogent in everything.

Gene said...

It amazes me that anyone might be concerned that Hell may be too empty...

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Jus - I think B16 makes a good argument in Spe Salvi, nos 45, 46, 47.

I think that heaven is the "general default destiny" for those made in the image and likeness of God, for those for whom the Beatific Vision is the goal for which we are created. This notion underlies the Church's position on the non-existence of Limbo - a soul made for union with God could not be "happy" in the merely natural state of happiness in Limbo, but would be restless, to use Augustine's memorable words, only when they rest in God.

The eschatological train is headed that way, and unless we get off that train at one of the following stations - hubris, greed, lust, malicious envy, gluttony, inordinate anger, or sloth - we reach the intended destination.

Detraining at one of those terminals requires (1) grave matter, (2) sufficient reflection, and (3) full consent of the will.

Marc said...

The default destiny for all men is hell. Baptism rescues us from that terrible fate. Maintaining the state of grace through the Sacrament of Confession provides a remedy for our sins that rob us of an inheritance of the Beatific Vision.

Being made in the image and likeness of God does not entitle us to the Beatific Vision. That entitlement was lost at the Fall. That is why Christ became incarnate -- so that we could be restored to the state of grace.

The Church teaches that the limbo of the infants is real because the soul of one who dies without baptism cannot inherit the Beatific Vision. But such a one has no personal sins and so can attain a state of natural happiness in the limbo of the infants.

Paul said...


What you and others have written here has inspired me to reread Scott Hahn on sola fide.

Mee here said...

Mee here
yada, yada, people need to get a life....get a job....maybe get a dog. Most of you have too little on your minds....too much time on your hands...

Rene said...

The Church does not teach that the limbo of infants is real.

"This theory, elaborated by theologians beginning in the Middle Ages, never entered into the dogmatic definitions of the Magisterium, even if that same Magisterium did at times mention the theory in its ordinary teaching up until the Second Vatican Council. It remains therefore a possible theological hypothesis."

"...never entered into dogmatic definitions of the Magisterium,..."

Also, the Church prays for those infants who die without Baptism. "We do not pray for those who are damned." If the Church prays for infants who die without Baptism and if the Church does not pray for those who are damned, then infants who die without Baptism cannot be said to be damned.

Also, "While it is true that the universal salvific will of God is not opposed to the necessity of Baptism, it is also true that infants, for their part, do not place any personal obstacle in the way of redemptive grace."

No "obstacle in the way of redemptive grace." Redemptive grace is what makes entry into heaven, not Limbo, possible.

The default destiny of all people is not hell. "The principle that God desires the salvation of all people gives rise to the hope that there is a path to salvation for infants who die without baptism (cf. CCC, 1261),..."

God's desire is primary and superior to sin.

Being made in the image and likeness of God destines humans for union with God. "You have made us for Yourself, O God, and our hearts are restless ever until they rest in you" is how this Truth was expressed by St. Augustine.

Rood Screen said...


We believe God is more important than dogs. Working and commenting are not mutually exclusive. We are clearly alive, or we could not comment here (as far as I know). But if you find this blog and its conversations to be futile, then why are you reading the posts and commenting upon them?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Rene, limbo is not an existence of damnation. It is a theological proposition for infants but not to the faithful Jews who died prot to the resurrection of Christ which opened the gates of heaven.

As a theological proposition Catholics are free to believe in Limbo for infants similar to the theological propositions of the Assumption and Immaculate Conception which were defined as articles of faith very recently.

Rene said...

Fr. McDonald - There is a difference between "free to believe," as you say, and "The Church teaches that the limbo of the infants is real..." as Marc (wrongly) says.

One is also "free to believe" that Adam had curly blonde hair, that St. Joseph preferred red to white wine, and that Pontius Pilate dressed in lady's clothes when he was relaxing at home.

"Free to believe" doesn't amount to much.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Let me explain it better. Prior to the dogmatic formulations of the Doctrines of the Immaculate Conception and Assumption, Catholics were not required by faith to give assent to the theological arguments that many Catholics accepted. The pope in formulating these dogmas did not do so out of thin air, there was a constant belief from the early Church, though never dogmatized, that believe in these to doctrines, but not everyone did and there was vociferous opposition to these being defined especially in our separated brethren, i.e. the Orthodox.

Limbo is a reality because the Jews of old were there until Christ's sacrifice freed them. There is a theological precedent for Limbo then extended to all the non baptized who through no fault of their own were never baptized to include infants.

There are theories also of Baptism of Desire and I urge you to study the simplest of expanations in the Baltimore Catechism. This is not dogma either but a theological construct similar to Limbo for the innocent non baptized.

Catholics who wish to believe in Limbo may well be vindicated in a 1,000 years or so. It is not anathema to believe in Limbo or to reject it.

Marc said...

It is not possible to reject limbo of the infants and believe what the Church teaches about original sin. Denying limbo is, then, proximate to heresy.

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

Fr. Kavanaugh on Aug 19 @ 7:32:

Jesus, in St. Luke's Gospel, when asked if there are just a few who are saved said, "Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able." In Matthew He says, "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it."

I think the opinions of popes are worth consideration, but I think the statements of Jesus regarding these matters are more definitive.

If Jesus says there are few who find the path that leads to life, and many who travel the road to destruction, I would take Him as one who knows.

I always felt this teaching was not given to discourage sinners, but to encourage them to become more pure in their goodness and contrite in their sin; to turn more firmly to God, if not out of love for Him, then out of fear of hell.

I am certain the Church does not teach that the default destiny of mankind is heaven. I believe the Church teaches that we, due to Original Sin, if not for Jesus Christ and God's grace, if left to ourselves, would all end up in hell. We are called to do something to be saved; that is, recognize our perilous position, and repent and beg for mercy. I think what you say on this matter is heterodox, and not doctrinal.

I believe it's these sorts of subtle errors held by and communicated to people by priests that are causing the destruction of the Church around the world.


Rene said...

The teaching on limbo has "never entered into the dogmatic definitions of the Magisterium." (International Theological Commission, "The Hope of Salvation for infants Who Die Without Baptism," April 2007.)

Hence, the denial of that which is not Magisterial teaching cannot be "proximate to heresy."

The International Theological Commission is far more competent and far better prepared to make judgments about what is and what is not Catholic doctrine than anyone who comments on this blog. If you think otherwise, you are self-deluded.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Bee - Sin followed our creation in a state of Original Holiness. "God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good. Evening came, and morning followed—the sixth day."

Only after our creation in a state of Original Holiness did sin and the corruption that flows from sin enter creation, disrupting the natural state of "very good-ness."

The default, from our creation, is to be with God in heaven. This truth is simply put in the Baltimore Catechism answer to question 6, "Why did God make you?" Answer: "God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven."

From the get-go we are created to be with God in heaven. This is the "default" situation for humans.

Keep in mind that Jesus' comments come after sin has disrupted creation. He is not making a declaration about how many or how few will be in heaven or hell, for that matter. His instruction is about the fact that no one has a right to enter heaven, but that living a holy life, which flows from belief, is a struggle.

If you take "there are few who find it" as teaching that heaven is sparsely populated, you tend to fall into the error of predestination or election a la Calvin. When you do that you muddy the Church's understanding of free will. Some people freely choose to live a righteous life and, therefore, enter heave, Some choose a live without virtue and, therefore, enter into hell.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

I just read this in a commentary by Fr. Victor Feltes:

"In the Book of Revelation, St. John witnesses a vast number of saints worshiping God in heaven. He beholds “a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue.” (Revelation 7:9) Note that this ‘countless multitude’ is different and much larger than the “one hundred and forty-four thousand marked from every tribe of the Israelites” that St. John enumerates several verses before. Jesus came to save souls not only from the twelve tribes of Israel. As the Lord declares through the prophet in Sunday’s first reading, “I come to gather nations of every language; they shall come and see my glory.” (Isaiah 66:18) Based on this, we can confidently say that a great number will be saved."

Feltes concludes, "Instead of providing us with some number or percentage, Jesus gives us some much more valuable and beneficial advice: “Strive to enter through the narrow gate (for whether you are saved or not depends, in part, upon you.)” God “wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.” (1st Timothy 2:4) And to “as many as did accept him, [Jesus] gave power to become children of God.” (John 1:12) Let us strive to cooperate with God, let us accept the Lordship of Jesus Christ in our lives, so that we may be numbered among “the few” who are saved and enter into life."

It is about the striving, not the number.

Marc said...

It is obvious that Rene neither knows the definition of "proximate to heresy" nor the magisterial weight given to the pronouncements of the International Theological Commission (hint: it's zero).

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

Fr. Kavanaugh on Aug 20 @ 11:13 am,

"Keep in mind that Jesus' comments come after sin has disrupted creation."

??????????????? So where are we now Father, before or after sin has disrupted creation?

That God wants everyone to be in heaven is not in doubt. To say because of that most get there, well, that I do not know, but I suspect Jesus deflected the question "Lord, are there many who will be saved?" for the reason most leaders deflect a question: a straight and direct answer would be brutally discouraging. Instead, He cautions to enter through the narrow way (the strict and exacting and difficult way).

What's your take on the state of the population of the world these days, Father? Do you see most people are following the strict and exacting and difficult way?

By the way, who needs to evangelize anyone who's pretty much going to heaven anyway? (I think you quoted Pope Benedict XIV earlier in his idea that a few really wicked go to to hell, most go to purgatory (and so eventually to heaven) and a few directly to heaven.) And doesn't this flirt with the sin of presumption?

It seems to me the Church Fathers exhibited quite a bit of urgency regarding conversion to belief in Jesus Christ, and worked very hard to baptize people and spread the Gospel, in spite of great risks to their very lives. Were they fools? Why bother if the default is heaven anyway?

I think this theology comes via the fault of human respect: we don't want to rile or upset or anger unbelievers, so we soft soap or twist the words of Jesus. We don't want to own the words of Our Lord. That's not me. Because I know what He said about those who would deny Him before others. Thanks, but no thanks.

To me the idea that the default for everyone is heaven sounds like something that would be said, not by a shepherd, but by the hired hand type Jesus spoke of in his parable of the Good Shepherd, who are pretty casual about the care-taking of the sheep.

Fr. Kavanaugh on Aug 20 @ 11:27 am,

Your quote is ironic, because I was going to quote the same passage of John 1:21 to you.

That it is about striving, and not the number, is most certainly true. But I think the outlook for mankind without God is very bleak in the hereafter, and pray for the conversion of sinners, for without that, any fool looking around today can see many many will be lost forever. I have no idea about if any one particular person is in hell, or will go there, or if hell is full or empty, but my Shepherd bids me to avoid the pit of eternal fire by following closely to Him, and I am eager to follow His voice. I'm not taking any chances.


Anonymous said...

Bee here:

I meant "John 1:12" :-)


Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Bee - The "default" position is the original position. We were created in Original Holiness and being in heaven with God is, therefore, our default destination. The brokenness that comes from sin, Original and/or personal, is secondary.

"Strict" is a fuzzy word. Some religious people, Catholics included, believe that a "strict" way of life includes women in dresses or skirts and never pants, a family decision making process in which women are never involved or consulted, and children who would never think, even when they are adults, of contradicting a parent.

In fact, I think that the vast majority of people in the world are not in danger of going to hell in the sense that they have committed some act that is 1) grave matter, that they have given that matter 2) sufficient reflection, and that they have committed that act with 3) full consent of the will.

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

Father, Father, Father...

So much education, yet, you still fall into error...


Gene said...

Kavanaugh, I find it hard to believe you are a Priest at all. Marc is correct, the default position for mankind is Hell. Otherwise, there was no need for the Incarnation at all.

George said...

Except for those who are rationally or spiritually compromised or dysfunctional, certain behaviors, such as murder are universally understood to be seriously wrong. The same with adultery and stealing. The conditions of a mortal sin can be fulfilled even by those who do not know them or can recite them.

Matthew 7:13-14

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many.How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.

Ralph Martin, in his book "The Fulfillment of all Desire" wrote that the above is perhaps the most quoted Scripture passage by St, John of the Cross

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Gene - What you can or cannot believe is no concern of mine.

The default "position" for mankind is heaven.

Q: Why did God make you?

A: God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with him forever in heaven."

We were created to be happy with God forever in heaven. That's our default position.

Sin, which is not part of our original nature, is an aberration. It is not of our created nature. God doesn't create sin or evil. That is 100% of our making.

Yes, because of our sin, the Incarnation is needed. Our sin, however, is not part of our original (default) nature.

Anonymous said...

Mortal sin cannot be committed if the person is not aware that he/she is committing a mortal sin. "Full consent of the will" presumes that a person knows very well that he/she is committing a act that will separate him/her from God for eternity.

George said...

Anonymous @ August 21, 2016 at 3:56 PM

Conditions for a sin to be mortal:
(1) grave matter(murder,adultery etc.), (2) full knowledge that these things are evil and immoral, and (3) full consent of the will.

A person in Bangladesh,Singapore,Iran or Saudi Arabia may not be able to list or recite these conditions, but if they commit these serious sins(murder,adultery etc.) and others, they have fulfilled the conditions for a grave offense against God.
In these place and others, murder, for instance, is a grave matter. If the person is not morally or rationally dysfunctional then they know this. If they commit the act with full consent of the will then a mortal sin has been committed.
Person's in other cultures and religious traditions have no dispensation from obeying God's moral laws. I do acknowledge that there can exist mitigating circumstances.

Marc said...

George, thank you for your posts. I appreciate your ability to stand up for the truth with charity and clarity.

Anonymous said...

Grave matter is grave matter, regardless of circumstances.

Sufficient reflection varies from sin to sin, from sinner to sinner. Even civil law recognizes this in what might be called "Crimes of Passion." The perpetrator is not punished as severely as one who, with sufficient reflection, plans and carries out a capital crime.

Full consent of the will requires that the person understand his/her action will separate him/her from God eternally. A person whose conscience has been poorly formed, or not formed at all, while he/she may know the act is wrong, even gravely wrong, cannot properly be expected to know the consequences of his/her actions before God.

George said...

"Grave matter is grave matter, regardless of circumstances."

And as to my comment,around the world.

"Even civil law recognizes this in what might be called 'Crimes of Passion'."

Even criminal law may do so. So a person comes upon his or her spouse committing
an adulterous act and kills one or both. You cannot say that God would judge the person the same as the person would be judged under man's law. In many cases
the legal judgement would be to give the person the benefit of doubt as far as
culpable deliberate homicide. Human law may in cases like this be more lenient than God who has full knowledge of each of us. Re-read some of what St. Paul has to say.
As I said at the end of my comment,there can exist mitigating circumstances.

As far as formation of conscience, as I also said in my comment, if a person is not morally or rationally dysfunctional, they know that murder,adultery and stealing
are seriously wrong and these are things proscribed and known to men to be serious transgressions around the world.

DJR said...

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said... In fact, I think that the vast majority of people in the world are not in danger of going to hell...

Numerous saints and mystics say otherwise. Who has the better insight?

Blessed Jacinta of Fatima:

"Oh, Hell! Oh, Hell! Mother of God, have pity on those who do not amend their lives."

"If men only know what awaits them in eternity, they would do everything in their power to change their lives."

Often she would say to her brother, "Francisco, are you praying with me? We must pray very much to save souls from hell, so many go there. So many!""

"[I am thinking] about the war which will come. So many people will die, and almost all of them will go to hell!

Our Lady to Blessed Jacinta: "The sins which lead the most souls to hell are sins of the flesh."

Sister Lucia: "Do not be surprised that I speak to you so much about hell. This is one truth that it is necessary to recall often in these times, because we forget that souls are falling into hell in droves."

Our Lady to the Three Children: "Pray, pray much and make sacrifices for sinners, for many souls go to hell because they have no one to pray and make sacrifices for them."

Interview with Sr. Lucia of Fatima on Hell, by Father Lombardi, recorded in the Vatican weekly "Osservatore della Domenica" February 7, 1954.

Fr. Lombardi: "Tell me, is the 'Better World Movement' a response of the Church to the words spoken to Our Lady?"

Lucia: "Father, there is certainly a great need for this renewal. If it is not done, and taking into account the present development of humanity, only a limited number of the human race will be saved."

Fr. Lombardi: "Do you really believe that many will go to Hell? I hope that God will save the greater part of humanity." [He had just written a book entitled "Salvation for Those Without Faith."]

Lucia: "Father, many will be lost."

Fr. Lombardi: "It is true that the world is full of evil, but there is always a hope of salvation."

Lucia: "No, Father, many will be lost."

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

DJR - The "insights" of saints are not sources of Divine revelation. As such, no Catholic is obliged to believe them.

From "Public revelation is binding on all Christians, but private revelation is binding only on those who receive it. The Catholic Church teaches that public revelation was completed, and therefore was concluded, with the death of the last apostle (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 4), but private revelation has continued."

rcg said...

Fr. K, your view of a default position for mankind may be true as far as the desire of our Creator but His pleasure to give us free will displaces that position over time, doesn't it? Christ descended into Hell not simply spelunking but to bring back certain souls. I forget which school of theology thought that eventually everyone was saved because Hell was a sort of education camp that made Purgatory pale by comparison. Eventually even the stiffest neck is bowed. That is hopeful but seems to smack of paganism where man can outsmart the gods or at least out last them. That would also put Satan on par with Our Lord and Creator, essentially validating evil. It seems that this entire line of thought is a contrivance to eek out one more rendezvous with our beloved sins while we fake contrition.

Marc said...

When God sends the Blessed Virgin Mary to the earth to deliver a message, it seems wise to pay attention to her.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

rcg - No, free will does not alter our original state since free will is part and parcel of that original state. It is by having free will that we are made "in the image and likeness" of God.

I am not among those who think everyone will be saved. There are those who, by their actions, separate themselves from God and eternity in hell is the result.

When God sends the BVM to earth, God is not delivering through her anything new, anything we don't already know, or anything that must be (or even should be) believed that is beyond what is already Divinely revealed.

Unknown said...

You mean the Holy Mass offered by Padre Pio (and many other great saints, less well known) was based on a theologically dry, sterile, overly intellectually sense, lacking in spirituality (sic), substance or profundity?

Yes, there were priests - and many of them - who had no 'taste' for the theology that underpinned doctrines of sacrifice, reparation, atonement, discipleship, piety, devotion, God-centredness, and heavenly calling - or hellish rejection of it; so they neither loved its expression (in the Mass, religious devotions, piety of Catholic Action etc), nor, naturally enough, did they see any point to it (other than as routine - or mere fancy). But this confusion always was - and is still - a diabolical disorientation; a kink in man's flesh-clinging heart not in the actual teachings of the Church, intellectually based (and challenging) as these cannot help being; the conflict that this confusion gave rise to, believe it or not, was the basic point of the (failed) Liturgical Renewal Movement of the late 19th-early 20th centuries .. to reconnect the (then) 'modern' world to the living Way, Truth, and Life in Catholic teaching, experience, hope, and promise (especially in the lives of priests and religious communities, and therefore of the people at large).

I am sure Bishop Barron is a very personable and caring soul, he comes across in that way. But that he promotes a Modernist error, as if a truth of the Faith, i.e. that we have a reasonable hope all men (or almost all men) are to be saved (somehow) tells us we should be careful of what he thinks and teaches (rather than how he comes across). And, for sure, Pope Francis is an amusing, loving, teasing soul .. yet that he actually sows more confusion rather than offering good guidance must make the faithful Catholic pause (trustworthy guiding governance is, after all, his chief role in the office of Sovereign Pontiff .. not offering mankind confusing off-the-cuff, occasionally impenetrable, mediated-populist-sounding remarks).

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

It is not a Modernist error to hope that all will be saved. Why? Because it is God's will that all be saved. It is not an error to hope that what God desires will come to pass.

"Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." We pray every day that God's will will be done.

Bishop Barron might err were he to teach that all people WILL be saved, or that some specific number of people WILL be saved. He has not done this.

Bishop Barron might err were he to teach that no one is in hell, or that there is some specific number of people in hell. He has not done this.

If, NO D, you believe that hoping for the salvation of all is an error, then you have to show, using the Church's doctrine, why this is so.

The Scriptures give us some difficulty since we have passages that say few will be in heaven and we have passages that say that a multitude too great to count will be there.

This may be one of the areas in which we, like Job, have to acknowledge the limitations of our understanding. "I have spoken but did not understand; things too marvelous for me, which I did not know." Job 42:3 God has revealed to us what we need to know. Maybe knowing (or even speculating on) how many are saved and how many are damned is none of our business.

One of the spiritual dangers of the desire for certitude in this area might be presumption. When one says "Many will most certainly be in hell!" that "many" rarely if ever, includes the speaker...