Thursday, March 8, 2018


Yes, yes, there are plenty who say that it isn't just Catholicism declining because of Vatican II but all religions are experiencing a decline, especially the progressive, liberal forms of Christianity but not exclusively them.

The common thread, we are told, is that society is changing fast (as it always has, by the way).

I guess the only two major parallels would be the Great Schism and the Protestant Reformation which took so many Catholics away from the true Church or what euphemistically is call the "full communion of the Catholic Church." Today it isn't the Orthodox stealing Catholics away or Protestants, try as they may, but secularists and their agenda of secularism and individualism.

But I contend, in the most Gnostic way possible, that the loss of Catholic identity and usually in all the wonderful icing on the cake of Catholicism is what has so weakened us. Cultural Catholicism was once celebrated and enjoyed like a glass of fine wine. But Vatican II scrapped away all that glorious icing, the butter cream kind, and simply left a bare pound cake. Yuck!

What do I mean?

All the cool things of Catholicism:

1. nuns in full habit
2. strong Catholic institutions manned by laity who joined the priesthood and religious life because of their baptismal calling
3. priests in cassocks
4. strong discipline in parishes and Catholic schools
5. Mystical liturgies and elaborate choreography and vestments
6. Popular devotions
7. Confession lines
8. popes in chairs carried aloft with fanons, ostrich fans and a regal court
9. the trappings of monarchy to point to Christ the KING and the KINGDOM of HEAVEN
10. Ornate churches with high altars and candles galore
11. fasting and abstinence especially every Friday's abstinence and ember days
12. Catholic modesty
13. women wearing veils
14. Catholic humility and few receiving Holy Communion

What else would you say as led to the Cadillac of Catholicism being stripped to the essentials of a rear-engine Volkswagen? It works, but just too ugly, plain and simple to keep or attract.


TJM said...

Father McDonald, do you wear a cassock?

Anonymous said...

And while all of these wonderful hallmarks of "Catholic Identity" were flourishing, Catholics who took it all in owned slaves, kept mistresses, murdered political opponents, fought for the Nazis and Fascists, oppressed poor factory workers, started aggressive wars, raped African colonies, maintained Jim Crow laws, marched native Americans from Georgia to Oklahoma, plotted to kill reigning monarchs, nearly succeeded a number of times in eliminating the Jews, etc etc etc.

OH! But they were ALL in Church EVERY Sunday at their "mystical, choreographed liturgies," kneeling to receive communion . . .

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

You must really love those places where 12% of Catholics attend Mass and see the Church as a country club of the saved who have no need of being a field hospital for the wounded and Holy Communion is a prize for virtue rather then a Medicine for the mortal sinner,.

No i don't wear a cassock.

TJM said...

Father McDonald,

You should lead by example and wear a cassock while on Church grounds. They make a powerful statement. They are quite comfortable too!

TJM said...

Anonymous Kavanaugh,

But since we've dispensed with those wonderful hallmarks, we've moved on to murdering millions of babies and having gay marriages!!!

Anonymous said...

No, I don't. But I don't offer nostalgia for the non-existent "Good Ol' Days" as solutions to today's problems.

Anonymous said...

NO thanks on (8) and (9)---I mean did the Lord go around being carried on a chair and wearing elaborate vestments? And walking is good for you anyway. As for (14), few receiving Holy Communion, I suspect a lot of people view that today akin to being invited to dinner, but you can't eat, just watch the food being prepared. AS for long confession lines, I'm not sure what to think---one side of me says that means your homilies exhorting people to sin are not working, so people are coming back time and time again to confession. Another side says we need frequent confession just as we need frequent nourishment to stay alive. But at least you are not asking us to fast like the Eastern Orthodox, whom I believe require abstineance from meat every (or almost every) Wednesday and Friday of the year, and whose extreme observance of Lent also leaves out dairy products!!!

James J. said...

Most Catholics, like most Southerners, did not own slaves. Most did not keep mistresses or murder political opponents.

Many Catholics fought against Nazis and Fascists and were among the oppressed factory workers.

Many did not start aggressive wars, but were amomg those who fought against aggression, at great price.

it was Catholic missionaries in large numbers who converted the African colonies.

As far as maintaining Jim Crow, and marching native Americans to Oklahoma, their numbers in the South were too small to have any persuasive influence in such things.

But OH, those awful Catholics.

Anonymous said...

James J. - Nonetheless, the falderal that our host wants us to believe makes good Catholics didn't.

Every Southern Catholic who owned slaves, including my own French great-grandfather, and who went to church lived in the world our hose describes.

Every Catholic who joined Mussolini (ya think SOME of those Italians were Catholics?) or Hitler and who went to church lived in the world our host describes.

The Catholic monarchs of Spain and Portugal profited mightily from the slave trade and lobbied hard at the Vatican to keep it legal.

Converting a native people while simultaneously taking whatever is valuable from their land leaving them destitute is not exactly a noble achievement.

Anonymous said...

Re: "too small to have any persuasive influence on these things"

"Between 1743 and 1759, the average number of slaves owned by an elite planter in Maryland was 22; in contrast, the average number of slaves owned by a Catholic—elite or clerical—during this same period was 31. Some Catholic owners had a relatively small number of slaves; Father Joseph Mosley, for instance, reported to his sister in 1766 that he had just "some Negroes" living with him on his eastern-shore farm. Other Catholics were among the largest slaveholders in the colony. Charles Carroll of Annapolis, for example, had 386 slaves living on his four western-shore estates in 1773. His father, Charles Carroll the Settler, owned 112 people at the time of his death in 1720. When Henry Darnall died in 1711, he had 100 slaves living on his estate in Prince George's County."

Jim Crow is the full-blooded son of slavery.

James J. said...


Maryland was founded as a Catholic colony and not unlike the other colonies, it had slavery. No surprise there were Catholic slave owners there.
You conveniently leave out the other 12 that were predominately protestant. Again, most colonists, whether Catholic or protestant did not own slaves. The more pertinent question is whether or not it was better to have a Catholic as a slave owner. Of course what is true now was true then-that is, not all who call themselves Catholics are such.

As far as converting people:
The greatest legacy of European colonization in Africa is the millions upon millions of Catholics that now reside there.

Anonymous said...

James J - I wasn't commenting on the entire South.

I was referring to you comment that "their (Catholics) numbers in the South were too small to have any persuasive influence in such things."

They weren't.

Southern Catholics in Maryland had significant influence on such things.

TJM said...

Anonymous Kavanaugh,

Well if you want to take a trip down memory lane with regard to Southernors please note the following:

1) The Southern slaveholders were Democrats, and

2) The KKK was founded by Southern Democrats.

Today, the Dems are more clever. They enslave Blacks through foodstamps and government assistance

Anonymous said...

Girlie TJM -

NO KIDDING! However, the comment was about "inconsequential" Catholic slaveholders.

Seems the data show that assertion was an error.

George said...

Catholic slaveholders in Maryland would be an interesting topic to research. How did they reconcile their Catholic faith with owning slaves? James J. made some good points but one can only ponder why Maryland slaveholders did not just free all their slaves. In what way did the bishop of Baltimore weigh in on the subject? We know that much later, in the following century, it took a very bloody and costly war to end that institution. The end did not come easy.

An inspiring story from Georgia:

James A.Healy was the first American Roman Catholic bishop in the United States of at least partial African descent. He was born in Georgia to a slave owner and and a slave, who were in a common law marriage. As did many other wealthy planters with mixed-race children, Michael Healy sent his sons to school in the North to receive a good education. This was at a time when no public or parochial schools were available in the area for his ten children to attend. There are times and circumstances when something good can come out of something as reprehensible as slavery.
That Catholics and other Christians owned slaves is certainly not something to be esteemed in any way;that Catholics and other Christians played a large part in bringing slavery to and end is not something to be discounted or dismissed either.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

The story of the Healy family has been well-chronicled. Wiki: "All four of the older Healy brothers (James, Hugh, Patrick, and Sherwood) graduated from Holy Cross College. Hugh decided to go into business in New York. He died at age 21 from an infection contracted in a boating accident. Patrick and Sherwood each entered the priesthood.
Patrick Francis Healy became a Jesuit, earned a PhD in Paris, and is now considered the first African American to have gained the degree. He was named a dean at Georgetown University in 1866. At the age of 39, in 1874, he assumed the presidency of what was then the largest Catholic college in the United States.

Alexander Sherwood Healy was also ordained as a priest, and earned his doctorate degree at the Sulpician Academy in Paris;[5] he became an expert in canon law and Gregorian chant. After working with his brother James in Boston for a time, Sherwood was appointed director of the Catholic seminary in Troy, New York, and later as rector of the Cathedral in Boston. His career was cut short by his death at age 39.[3][11]

Younger brother Michael Augustine Healy preferred a more adventuresome life. He left school at the age of 16 to go to sea.[3] In England, he signed aboard the East Indian clipper Jumna as a cabin boy in 1854; he quickly became an expert seaman, rising to an officer.[2] In 1864, Michael Healy returned to his family in Boston.
He applied for a commission in the Revenue Cutter Service (predecessor to the Coast Guard) and was accepted as a Third Lieutenant, his commission being signed by President Lincoln.[2][12] In 1880, Healy was assigned command of a US government ship. (Since the late 20th century, he has become known as the first African American to gain such command.) During the last two decades of the 19th century, Captain Healy was essentially the federal government's law enforcement presence in the vast Alaska Territory.[2] Commissioned in 1999, the U.S. Coast Guard research icebreaker USCGC Healy (WAGB-20) is named in his honor.[13]

The three Healy daughters became nuns. Martha, the first, left the order after several years and moved to Boston, where her brothers were. She married an Irish immigrant and they had one son. Josephine Healy joined the Religious Hospitallers of Saint Joseph in Canada.

Eliza Healy (1846–1918) joined the Congregation of Notre Dame in Montreal. After teaching for years at Catholic schools in Quebec and Ontario, in 1903 she was appointed as Mother Superior at a Catholic convent and school, the Villa, in St. Albans, Vermont. Since the late 20th century, she has been known as the first African American to gain the position as abbess.[14]

Eugene Healy (1848-?), the youngest son, was reported by Albert S. Foley, biographer of James A. Healy, to have died soon after birth.