Friday, September 11, 2020



On another post, I pointed out that prior to Vatican II, most vocations both to the priesthood and religious life came in abundance from rank and file parishes. New Movements were not needed as the parish provided all that most Catholics needed for their spiritual and moral lives. There was true community, as parishes were comprised of neighborhoods where the horizontal relationships developed and matured in a natural way. The Mass was vertical, the person, the parish directed to God, not to each other. 

After Vatican II and when ecclesiology became a "god", the horizontal at Mass became an ideology to the neglect of the vertical. And parishes and parish churches soon became an artifact of the past, because many Catholics began to drive by their neighborhood or geographical parish church to attend another parish which had a more dynamic priest whose personality was nicer than their own neighborhood priest, better programs and nicer facilities. Thus began consumer Catholicism.

At Mass, the horizontal created a "faux" community of friendly people under the roof of the church building. But for the most part, since members didn't live in the same neighborhood, that was the extent of the friendship, fellowship and community. It did not extend to the neighborhood if one didn't go to their neighborhood parish where fellowship, friendship and community developed naturally.

On top of that, the emphasis on people being involved in churchy things as a testament of being a good Catholic meant everyone needed to be doing something at the new Mass. It wasn't enough to have a few tried and tested Catholics known by reputation for being a good Catholic in their neighborhood, no there had to be as many lectors as possible with as many people volunteering as possible regardless of qualifications both in the technical ability to lector and their virtue as a good Catholic in their neighborhood.

The same with extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion replacing the pastor and other parish priests at the point of personal contact that every Catholic once had with their priest--at Holy Communion. 

Thus the clericalization of the laity, with laity fully wanting to be clericalized occurred and the churchy things laity did made them "super Catholics" compared to those who didn't do churchy things, simply went to Mass each Sunday and tried to live good Catholic lives at home, work and play. 

The move of women religious orders away from Catholic schools also was deleterious for the Catholic identity of these schools and the promotion of vocations, especially to the priesthood. Traditional women religious in both elementary and high school were the greatest promoters of vocations to the priesthood. 

Several years ago, I proposed that my parish formally received several men into the formal ministry of Acolyte. These were men who were not going to seek either the diaconate or the priesthood.

It was rejected? Why? Because women cannot be formally received into this ministry, only men. 

If we are going to see rank and file parishes once again having vocations coming from parishes, there has to be a mechanism that encourage boys, teenagers and young men to be involved liturgically as a recruitment devise. This is no longer happening in most parishes. The parishes where it is happening, boys and teenagers remain altar servers and see their role as a priestly role. If this doesn't occur, fat chance a parish will provide priestly vocations and if the priests don't promote vocations with special ministries for boys and teenagers and young men, how will vocations come from that parish?


ByzRus said...

Well said. The "god" worshiped in many Roman parishes is vibrancy. So great is the emphasis on being active or, being perceived as active, both parishioner and the parish itself, that other more traditional elements of parish life become secondary, or tertiary.

While parishes that do absolutely nothing other than the celebration of the sacraments are frustrating because they feel like they are just waiting to close; hyper "vibrant" parishes are equally frustrating because the pace is exhausting and at times, one wonders to what end.

I've never understood what purpose/gain having girls at the altar serves. It obviously will not lead to the priesthood and, later in adolescence / early adulthood, it typically ends with nothing to replace it (and highly unlikely a vocation to consecrated life would result). To me, it mostly pleases those in the pews who favor the ordination of women. Women have such an important role in the Church - we are lost without them when we look at the collapse of Catholic education. I've encountered many traditional, tireless, outstanding nuns over the years who, as you pointed out, were passionate about fostering vocations. They were the ones who always seemed to be magnets for the students.

John Nolan said...

Getting rid of 'serviettes' (girl altar boys) regarding whom a liberal former Archbishop of Paris admitted that when they came in the boys left to the extent that 'you couldn't see them for dust' isn't that difficult. A London parish did the following: it didn't recruit any more and when the girls left to go to university they were not replaced.

The same parish started celebrating the EF Mass as well as the OF, and since females are not allowed to serve in the former it avoided the situation whereby there are 'two tiers' of altar servers.

The Oratorian parish I frequently attend does not have EMHC of either sex nor female servers, and uses both forms of the liturgy. The Oratorians with their now young priests and exemplary liturgy are one of the great success stories in England.

I feel a bit sorry for Father Mike as he faces what I hope will be a long retirement watching his 'ecclesiological' revolution being dismantled bit by bit.

Joseph Johnson said...

It has been my experience that there is usually no shortage of men and boys willing to serve at EF Masses---I can't always say the same about OF Masses. There have been times that I think the allowance of girl servers has discouraged younger boys from desiring to serve Mass.

Why does there seem to be more interest by men and boys in serving at EF Masses? This is something that should be studied more closely in the interest of promoting more priestly vocations.

The Boiling Frog said...

I think we need to take a fearless assessment of the self-sabotage that persists in the chanceries. When priests preach any unpopular truth of the faith (and I don't necessarily mean Fr. Altman in Wisconsin) it is almost guaranteed that the bishop will call him on the carpet (or worse) before the next week is finished.

If you want an EF Mass at your parish, there's a better than average chance that not only will you be denied, but your pastor will mentally classify you as one of "them" and possibly initiate some less than flattering remarks about you to others.

If your parish HAS an EF Mass, it's probably at some inconvenient time (like the Middle of Sunday afternoon) to make it more difficult for you and your children or to make sure it sabotages your other activities for the day.

If your diocese has an EF Mass parish, chances are it is in the most undesirable part of town and in a place where it is very difficult to find parking.

In spite of these obstacles, the EF continues to attract new people at a rate the Novus Ordo folks can only envy (while they keep reminding us that no one wants the EF).

The game is rigged. The fix is in.

Yet somehow, I have faith that in the end, God's goodness will persevere and deliver us from this dictatorship of pastoral concern.

Robert Kumpel said...

Mr. Johnson, I think I can give you at least a partial explanation of why males are more attracted to the EF:

As Father has noted before, the highly regimented, tightly-scripted nature of the EF is more appealing to men.

The EF is very explicit and unapologetically vivid in its prayers. Anyone who reads the English translation immediately realizes that the direction of the Mass is the redemptive act of Jesus Christ and the focus is on God. The prayers also vividly awaken one's sense that living as a Catholic and, especially assisting at Mass is truly spiritual warfare.

There is an old saying that women bond in a circle facing each other, while men bond standing shoulder to shoulder. Without getting too critical about the New Mass, the lack of regimentation, the softening and diminishment of the prayers and the focus on the "community of believers" is far more appealing to women than to the average man (not wishing to deal with sexist stereotypes).

I suppose we could benefit from some research into the appeal of the EF to men, but I think that many of the reasons are obvious.

Wishing you a beautiful day in Waycross...

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Good analysis of male and female sensibilities.

John Nolan said...

Not long ago (in the last ten years) a British army padre in Afghanistan wrote of how he celebrated the EF Mass for the troops because they appreciated its no-nonsense military precision, in stark contrast to the touchy-feely feminized liturgy they got at home.

I commented on this at PrayTell (before I was barred) since someone had remarked that the EF mostly appealed to homosexuals. Up popped Rita Ferrone (who else?) to suggest that the squaddies probably had hidden deviant tendencies.

I advised her not to repeat this in Aldershot or Catterick if she wanted to emerge in one piece.

Anonymous said...

The women who bond in a circle have chosen the holier, healthier path.

As men get older and take on more responsibilities at work and home, they typically have less time for shared activities which foster bonding, which can be isolating. Isolation in middle to late age is unhealthy.

Without good connections - bonds - males tend toward higher blood pressure, higher body-mass index, have greater experiences of depression, and live shorter lives than women.

"Shoulder to shoulder" sound oh so virile and masculine! AFter all, that's how men march into battle! But, it's not good for you in the long run.

Outdated said...

Dear Anonymous who prefers the women's path...good for you. Can we just agree to disagree or is it really that important for you to mock anyone you disagree with?

Frankly, my blood pressure and body mass aren't half as important to me as the state of my eternal soul.

I could say much more, but...well, I'm not like you.

John Nolan said...

I have yet to meet a woman who had the slightest desire to 'bond', in a circle or otherwise, with other women. In fact, most women prefer the company of men, who are less bitchy and provide more in the way of intellectual stimulation.

You often see sportsmen huddled in a circle before the start of a match as a way of fostering teamwork. As a rule, men are better team-players and are more 'clubbable' than women. All-male gatherings have a different dynamic from mixed ones since the sexual element is excluded, and men will club together to keep women out (if they're allowed to).

It's easy for a man to walk into a pub on his own and strike up a conversation with a complete stranger, something a woman can't or won't do, for obvious reasons.

The term 'bonding' came into use in the 1990s and has always struck me as 'new-agey' and artificial. Prior to then, non-sexual relationships outside the family included aquaintances, work colleagues, friends, close friends and (by all accounts the most intense) comrades-in-arms. When your very life depends on the man fighting alongside you, the relationship is uniquely close.

Anonymous said...

Outdated - Dualism is unhealthy, both physically and spiritually. An integrated life is the goal of EVERY spiritual teacher and guide our Church has ever known.

Your virtue signaling: "I could say much more, but...well, I'm not like you." is very impressive. I am sure everyone here is cheering for your blood pressure now.

The women/circle men/shoulder idea is nonsense and should be mocked.

Pierre said...

John Nolan congratulations on being banned from PrayTell aka PraySniff. Like typical modern “liberals,” whether in academia or the media, dissent from liberal “orthodoxy” is never tolerated!

John Nolan said...


Definition of a liberal: someone who will fight to the death for your right to agree with him.

I had some fun with PrayTell for about six months (2010/2011) but my greatest achievement was getting some of their contributors to disparage the world-renowned composer James MacMillan which resulted in the great man taking them to task in no uncertain terms.

After a few days the entire exchange was deleted as if it had never existed.

Pierre said...

John Nolan,

Thanks for confirming the PrayTell are Stalinists - erasing inconvenient history

Outdated said...

Yep, thanks be to God I am not like you. I couldn't possibly carry the burden of knowing everything.

Joseph Johnson said...

'Just getting back to my computer. It's always good to hear from you!

Anonymous said...

Father, you've got to change your header photo. Too much unhealthy dualism!

Anonymous said...

Philip Glass is a "world-renowned" composer, too.

John Nolan said...

PrayTell's regulars didn't have a go at Philip Glass, who is indeed world-renowned and doesn't deserve the inverted commas.

Anonymous said...

The quotation marks were for you, not Mr. Glass.

John Nolan said...

Why bring up Glass in the first place? I enjoy a lot of his music, although I can understand why he is sometimes criticized for eclecticism and superficiality. Sir James MacMillan is regarded by many as the greatest living British composer. He once correctly described the music in most Catholic parishes as 'dire' which probably irked the usual suspects at PTB and led them to libel him. Who knows?