Responding to the “Mass” Exodus 

It’s been a rough 60 years, with so many self-inflicted wounds. Since the early 1960s, when 75% of Catholics attended Mass regularly, there has been a steady, annual decline in attendance to less than 25%.

(Image: Andrew Seaman/Unsplash.com)

The Catholic Church, along with every major Protestant denomination, has witnessed a precipitous decline in Church attendance.

This slide, set off during the 1960s, has accelerated with the rapid rise of the “nones,” Americans claiming no religious affiliation. We could wonder, has the bottom fallen out with this huge exodus? Or put more theologically, has Christ abandoned his Church? Moments of crisis test us, calling us to exercise great hope and trust in the Lord’s providence. Even though Jesus told us that he will never abandon us, he also calls us to do our part. We are not simply helpless in the current freefall. We can assess why things have gone off track and then adjust, focusing our attention on what can help us reverse course.

In taking stock of the crisis, Stephen Bullivant traces the steps of our decline for us, drawing together the many contributing factors, in his book Mass Exodus: Catholic Disaffiliation in Britain and America since Vatican II (Oxford, 2019). Bullivant describes the major forces —both internal and external — that have combined to form a perfect exit storm. Huge cultural changes certainly set the backdrop. One surprising example stems from the breaking up of ethnic Catholic enclaves in cities in favor of the more isolated and anonymous suburbs.

Alongside of unprecedented upheaval in society, confusion also reigned for decades in the Church following the Second Vatican Council, which stemmed from a revolution in worship, conflicts over morality, a collapse of catechesis and a flight from the priesthood and religious life — all leading to general turmoil. More recently, revelations about the cover up of the sex abuse crisis and a growing distance between doctrine and society have alienated even more Catholics.

It’s been a rough 60 years, with so many self-inflicted wounds. Since the early 1960s, when 75% of Catholics attended Mass regularly, there has been a steady, annual decline in attendance to less than 25%. Catholics went from having clear identifiers of belief and practice within a strong community that anchored a whole way of life to a very changed landscape with few demands, incentives or cultural practices to support faith. The drift of Catholics to other churches or to no religion at all, Bullivant explains, should be seen in terms of an identity crisis, with every element of Catholic belief and practice seen as up for grabs (178).

People need God — we simply cannot be truly happy without him — and so must reach and serve our own people more effectively. Bullivant sheds light on this effort too, pointing to what worked before so many left. Catholic parishes of the past offered a “close-knit community-life,” augmented by a “richly elaborate devotional” practice (88). In fact, respondents to many recent surveys sought greater community and simply could not find it at their parish.

Keeping Catholics active in the faith involves more than just Mass attendance. In particular, people remain much more engaged when there is social integration into the parish and meaningful ties to other parishioners (95). Parishes of the past also provided opportunities to see the faith lived in meaningful ways, through something Bullivant describes as Credibility Enhancing Displays (CREDS) — actions and practices that manifest belief, often involving sacrifice (102). CREDS, such as nocturnal adoration, the Friday penance and processions, make faith come alive by drawing it into daily life.

What can we do differently to stop the “Mass” exodus?

For one, we should focus on evangelization first — sharing the good news of salvation in relationship with Christ. Without a living faith in God, why would anyone care to listen to information/rules from the Church or come for worship? To grow in the faith, mentorship has been found much more effective than instruction (particularly when done by parents). If the classroom has been the model for catechesis in the past, we now need to think much more in terms of apprenticeship. We need a more dynamic approach — banding together with a motivated mentor and peers, sharing life together, living the faith actively and serving others. It is time to move out of the classroom in favor of small group settings (preferably in the home), which are more ideal to personally engage content. Mass has become a lost treasure, and to help people rediscover it, we must build a stronger community to surround it.

Looking back reveals that Catholics have assimilated into our culture, influenced more by its ethos and priorities. To reengage the lost faithful, we need to communicate a compelling, imaginative vision of what it means to be a Christian in the modern world and why life will be better if we accept this vision and live within it. For the faith to stick, it must be woven into the very fabric our lives and supported by community. Only if we help Catholics to accept and internalize faith and live it every day of the week can we prevent them from becoming another statistic within the legion of  “nones.”

Catholics may have left in a mass exodus, but the return will happen by engaging our lost brethren one at a time.

• Related at CWR: “Why have Catholics in the UK and US been leaving the Church since Vatican II?” (August 10, 2019). An interview with theologian and sociologist Stephen Bullivant by Dr. Adam A. J. DeVille.


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About Dr. R. Jared Staudt 17 Articles
R. Jared Staudt PhD, serves as Associate Superintendent for Mission and Formation for the Archdiocese of Denver and Visiting Associate Professor for the Augustine Institute. He is author of Restoring Humanity: Essays on the Evangelization of Culture (Divine Providence Press) and The Beer Option (Angelico Press) and the editor of Renewing Catholic Schools: How to Regain a Catholic Vision in a Secular Age (Catholic Education Press). He and his wife Anne have six children and he is a Benedictine oblate.

84 Comments

  1. Incredibly accurate assessment of the situation, and a recommended path forward that should be adopted by the Bishops who determine the direction of the Ship.
    Kudos!

  2. If “evangelization” and “building community” are the answer, how plausible can these external activities really be when this pope continually and publicly contradicts essential moral norms and practices and doctrinal and dogmatic truths of the Catholic Faith, explicitly condemns and destroys the Church’s 2,000-year-old liturgical practice, and fecklessly praises prominent abortionists, practicing homosexuals, Marxist South American dictators, ferociously atheistic genocidal Chinese Communist tyrants, and militantly secular and materialistic left-wing globalist oligarchs?

    • Paul, I agree that “evangelization” and “building community” are not the ( complete ) answer. However to my way of thinking they are not external activities but an integral response to the call of Jesus to follow him. At penticost the response to the anointing of the Holy Spirit was expressed in many languages.

      • Building community the answer? The one area where the faithful in action is most vital is in the pro-life movement, but when any of us try to give a talk at a parish, even to those at regular Mass attendance, we can be made to feel as welcome as lepers.
        It may be well intended, but I’m not as impressed with this article as others seem to be. The author makes the outrageous suggestion that it is “theological” to consider faulting Jesus Christ for abandoning His Church as an explanation for the Exodus. But he doesn’t actually fault Catholics for very much at all. He mentions a 70 percent drop-off in Mass attendance, but ignores a 90 percent drop-off in the practice of confession, including many who attend Mass. He is as reluctant to talk about the reality of sin in our daily lives as many priests who will go through their entire ordained lives without mentioning the word once.
        It is not sociology or culture or lack of catechetics that has caused lay individuals to dismiss the idea that their sins are not sins and that they no longer need to constantly reconcile their lives to God. They made the sinful decision themselves to tell themselves that their sins are not sins.

        The Catholic laity, like multitudes of the Catholic ordained, have made the decision to adopt the end result from a self-enforced ignoring of such prophetic warnings as that famously given by the Protestant voice, capable at times of more Catholic thought than many Catholics, H. Richard Niebuhr, who lamented Christian liberalism saying: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.” One cannot tolerate clown Masses or not attend altogether without imaging oneself as substantially sinless.
        In New York, where I live, the only Masses that are heavily attended are those celebrated by priests who are not afraid to talk about real evil in the world. And I don’t mean how intelligence challenged liberals understand evil.

    • As the article noted, the loss of people “in the pews” has affected both the Catholic Church and the Protestant communities, with the mainline Protestant communities perhaps even more. I seriously doubt that anything the Pope does or does not do has any impact on the Protestant communities – and likewise the Catholic Church – in regards to the existing problem.

  3. I think there are two problems, the culture has completely undermined the biblical understanding of reality, aided and abetted by many influential Catholic biblical scholars, theologians, and intellectuals who are thoroughly imbued with a modernist understanding of reality. They that Holy Scripture must be studied and understood “as if God is not there.” By undermining confidence in the Gospels as eyewitness testimony, as does Father Raymond Brown in his 20 or so books, you can convince people we do not have the actual words and deeds of Jesus, the Word of God, and anything goes. The biblical establishment in the US and their secular allies in the media, castigated the best biblical scholars as “fundmentalists”

  4. But … but… but… We have so many ministries now! Peace & Justice; Environmental Stewardship; Hispanic Outreach; RCIA; Habitat for Humanity; Racial Equality; LGBTQ Outreach; Consistent Life Ethic Committee; Earth Care Committee; Youth Liturgy; Vietnamese Liturgy Committee; Indigenous Peoples Outreach; Climate Awareness Committee; Music Ministry; Lector Ministry; Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministry… And we actively participate so much more during the Mass! Let’s just intensify all our efforts in these directions, and I am sure the promise of Vatican II, the New Springtime of the Church, will be just around the corner!

    • Your post reminds me. When facing one or another of the recent church crises to hit the press, a devoted Bishop Barron Word-on-Fire fan exclaimed: “What to do? We need to brainstorm what to do!” The failed utility of the program struck me. After dedicating years and dollars to the program, this gent had no sense at all of what a Catholic soldier of Christ might require. Sigh and alas.

    • Timothy, by including the LGBTQ Outreach in your list of Buts, you sound like you are encouraging participation in a group known for breaking the rules of morality. I hope I am wrong.

  5. We’re past the stage of offering compelling visions. Ethos became pathos for the remaining faithful battered, doubting [which even the Apostle admits] largely because of the collapse of priest leadership from presbyter to pontiff. At present ambiguity reigns, appeal to mitigation, mercy mixed with truth a poisonous draft. Rapid abandonment of practice parallel to liberty redefined within the Church opening the path to presumed licit pleasures. With loosening of the doctrinal hawsers since the Sixties and now Amoris Laetitia the logical inference is why bother attending Mass if it’s no longer conscientiously required. Not to say what Dr Jared Staudt suggests hasn’t value. Although Staudt identifies what in this writer’s view is most effective, “Nocturnal adoration, the Friday penance and processions, make faith come alive by drawing it into daily life”. I might add easily available nocturnal adoration in private at home, as did the saints throughout our glorious history in spite of corruption within. That which a Church mandated to call sinners to repentance must suffer. Witness of the saints and martyr saints martyrdom white and red as preached by saints and pontiffs. White martyrdom, the willingness to suffer for Christ and the salvation of souls. And significantly retentive awareness of the plight of sinners and eternal hell as the measure of our compassion, our prayer life and love of Christ who won us for himself by his own willful suffering. His beckoning to us to participate in his glory brings with it the exquisite joy of some measure of that love. Fallen Catholics require what is entirely radical to the mundane.

  6. Sorry but pondering what it means to be a Christian in the modern world is a waste of thinking time. The faux concept “modern world” refers to nothing. It is only an appeal to look at how things are in recent times. But this appeal cannot be fulfilled. The possible answers are endless. They are always too abstract to establish what it is that needs consideration. Many lives have been wasted in smug solipsistic dreams that pretend to have achieved knowledge of the modern world – sufficient to justify intellectual, social and political revolt and disgruntlement. This is a Devil’s game.

  7. It should be noted that there is no mass exodus from the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM.) The TLM community has been growing tremendously since Pope Benedict issued Summorum Pontificum. Curiously Pope Francis takes a dim view of this development.

    To return to my point, there has been no mass exodus from the Traditional Latin Mass. In fact, only growth since 2007.

    • It hasn’t been growing tremendously, and growth leveled off over the past four years because saturation has been reached. It’s less than 0.5% of worldwide Catholics. The dim view of TLM communities is that they are pre-Vatican II separatists.

      • Crisis magazine reports a survey from 2021 and showed numbers and trends directly opposing yours. What is the source of your ‘information’?

      • Objective evidence refutes your subjective opinion, Carl.

        The Growth of the Latin Mass: A Survey
        Analysis

        We see clear evidence of significant growth over the 30-month period.”

        “It’s clear that reports of TLM growth was not simply anecdotal, at least in the United States. It has been in fact growing at rates unheard of in the modern Catholic Church in the West.”

      • Carl King, “Pre-Vatican ll separatists”? What exactly have we Traditionalists separated from? I’ll answer that, we have separated ourselves from the Modernism that was condemned by St. Pius X. That should be considered something good, very good! We have kept the faith. There are those who see us as wrongdoers, schismatic, disobedient. Such people need to do a complete re-assessment of all the damage they caused in the last 60 years. The exact damage that they demand we adhere to in the name of Vatican ll, or be called schismatic. If only the Modernists could see what we Traditionalists see and what they fail to see. We see God in the Holy Sacraments and in all the great treasures that Holy Mother Church offers us. That is everything Modernist heretics have tried to do away with, they have separated themselves from the Church Christ founded. And we are called to obedience to their man-made mess!!! NEVER!

        • You know, Andrew, three years ago, I left a diocesan and joined an FSSP TLM parish. I had no idea that I was joining what some have called a “mean rad-trad/sede/sect.” I was Catholic then. I am Catholic now. The divisive labels others throw as insults do not describe reality. Sincere, devout, service-oriented, and faithful Catholics holding to tradition, magisterial teaching, the Holy Word of Scripture, and who love the TLM are Catholic. First and foremost. Political and secular beliefs and charity should flow from and follow a holder of Catholic identity.

          The labels others fling? They roll off like the uncharitable, nondescriptive, uninformed false assumptions they are.

          But when the pope of Holy Mother Church deigns to claim that worship at the Mass of the Ages correlates with non-acceptance of a factual occurrence or the pastoral words of a historical, factual occurrence of a duly called and duly carried out ecumenical council of the Roman Catholic Church???, one must of necessity infer and conclude facts which fit the facts.

          If this is the best that the leaders of our Church can offer, they have signaled to the world their smallness of mind and the hideousness of their spirits. They have placed themselves on the altar of the inane and the ridiculous. As Pachamamm and homoerotic dancing clowns, etc., had already hinted.

          The churh hierarchy has perfectly ridiculously staged the story of the Modernist brotherhood of their worldchurch vision. The Modernist reform of the Catholic Church in the name of the spirit of the council hijacked, deformed, and destroyed so very much good in the Church. Yes, there was then some ossification and some legalization which could have been dealt with. But to destroy 2000 years of worthy architecture, art and music, modes of worship, metaphysical philosophy and scholastic theology, to introduce psychobabble as worthy catechesis???, the result has been the undermining of the very faith of the Catholic people. That many Catholics apostasized is a revelation requiring no new eyewear.

          What to do? The story of Elisha, the kings of Israel, and Israel’s continual war have opened new meaning, inspiration, and trust in the King of All Kings and Lord of All Lords. The path forward is blazing. We are already on it. The Lord came to cast fire upon the earth and He would have it blazing. Luke 12:49. He predicted that brother would stand against brother. (Luke 12:53) So here we all are.

          Kyrie Eleison. Christi Eleison. Kyrie Eleison.

      • I go to the TLM on Sundays. I believe the novus ordo mass is valid and I was attending daily mass at my parish (since TLM parish is too far from my house)…. until the pastor decided no Communion on the tongue. Since there aren’t any other parishes offering this, I have stopped going to any daily masses as I do NOT take Our Lord in the hand or from laypeople!!! So you can call be a Vat2 separatist if you want to, but it’s the local churches who have separated me from the novus ordo, not the other way around.

      • From what I’ve seen at the Latin Mass the number of children way out numbers the average family size a NO Mass. Just going by that it would seem further growth is guaranteed.
        Retention though is critical because children need a community to support & encourage them to remain. Lack of community is what afflicts most us us.

      • I don’t see that in my TLM parish. We have been having many new, young families with small children and a group of young men among others, who are making our small parish church burst at the seams. Weekly collection wonderfully reflects that increase in attendance.

      • The idea that Catholics are pining for the Tridentine Rite is the trend story that never dies. It is the line that Trads have been feeding everyone for decades, and it was amplified by church leaders like Pope Benedict XVI, who in broadening the use of the old rite in 2007 said that his move was prompted by ongoing requests from around the world and that “even young people” were drawn to it. First Things editor and Latin Mass loyalist Matthew Schmitz echoed that view in a 2017 article in the Catholic Herald: “Wherever one looks, the kids are old rite.”
        This idea was repeated so insistently and so authoritatively that it was too good to check out, and secular outlets could hardly resist features on “young fogeys” drawn to an ancient High Mass with all manner of lace and finery and smells and bells. It was so appealing, dramatically and visually, that it became the entire premise of the The Young Pope, the 2016 HBO series. “It’s trendy to be a traditionalist in the Catholic church,” The Economist wrote in 2012. “Modern life is ugly, brutal and barren. Maybe you should try a Latin Mass,” went a 2020 New York Times piece that claimed such practices are “likely to reflect Christianity’s only viable future in a secular age.”
        The problem is that none of these anecdotes are supported by data. In fact, the numbers show a tiny number of Tridentine faithful whose ranks are not growing, and certainly not globally.
        The Latin Mass Directory website provides the best available metric for gauging the availability of the old Tridentine Mass, and it shows a total of 1,684 “sites” around the world that offer the 1962 Mass, a liturgical rounding error in a worldwide church of more than 1.2 billion Catholics. Moreover, many of those sites only offer the Old Mass sporadically.
        Above all, the list clearly demonstrates how geographically skewed even this tiny minority is: the United States, which is home to just six percent of the world’s Catholics, is home to nearly forty percent of all Tridentines Masses, with 658 sites. France, Great Britain, and Italy are the next most popular, with 199, 157, and 91 sites (which can be a parish or other chapel or designated spot) respectively. Indeed, Europe and the Anglosphere account for more than eighty-six percent of all Tridentine sites, and if you removed the fifty-seven sites in Brazil – the world’s most populous Catholic country – there would be hardly any in Latin America, Africa, or Asia, the continents where the Catholic population is largest and fastest-growing.
        Still, the New York Times ran a long 2017 feature by Matthew Schmitz about how the old Latin Mass was “thriving” in Nigeria, even though it has precisely one church offering a Latin Mass every Sunday, in a country of 24 million Catholics.
        Even the overall statistics don’t tell the whole story. In recent years, a number of commentators, including conservative Catholics who support the Tridentine rite, have been warning about the weaknesses of the growth narrative being told about the Old Rite.
        “It seems that a ceiling has been hit. The Traditional Latin Mass appeals to a certain niche group of Catholics, but the number in that group appears to have reached its maximum,” Msgr. Charles Pope, a traditionalist priest in Washington, DC, wrote in a 2016 column for the conservative National Catholic Register.
        “It seems that a ceiling has been hit. The Traditional Latin Mass appeals to a certain niche group of Catholics, but the number in that group appears to have reached its maximum,” Msgr. Charles Pope, a traditionalist priest in Washington, DC.
        When Benedict XVI first authorized a wider use of the Tridentine Mass in 2007 – the policy that Francis just revoked – there was a spike in attendance, according to Pope, just as he and others promised it would. But that enthusiasm waned, something they did not expect.
        “In my own archdiocese, although we offer the Traditional Latin Mass in five different locations, we’ve never been able to attract more than a total of about a thousand people. That’s only one-half of one percent of the total number of Catholics who attend Mass in this archdiocese each Sunday,” he wrote. “One of our parishes generously offers a Solemn High Mass once a month on Sunday afternoon, a Mass that I myself have celebrated for over 25 years. But we have gone from seeing the church almost full, to two-thirds full, to now only about one-third full.”
        Pope cited other examples of Tridentine parishes drawing very small numbers of adherents, not enough to sustain itself, and others have reported the same phenomenon.
        “I support the TLM [Traditional Latin Mass] but reject the whole ‘TLM masses filled with young people’ thing as inaccurate,” tweeted a priest from Michigan during the intense online debate over Francis’s move. “Our diocese gives tremendous $ to keep our TLM parishes open precisely because they don’t tend to grow. It all depends on lots of things, but not the type of Mass.”
        In 2019, one effort by fans of the Tridentine Mass to provide research bolstering the claim that the rite was “quickly growing” and its followers more devout and orthodox than other American Catholics only served to show how hollow such claims are. In an article for First Things, a conservative magazine, sociologist Audra Dugandzic revealed how flawed the so-called study was, the chief problem being that it was a survey of self-selected Tridentine Mass attenders.
        The tendency of the Latin Mass fans to self-select, to gather intentionally and often with greater effort than many parishioners, is a natural function of their passion and that’s a chief reason why they can project an image of a growing cohort. They are visible and they are often outspoken about their beliefs.
        If they are small, that does not mean they are without influence. To call them liturgical One Percenters would be vastly overstating their size. But not their reach. The popularity of the Latin Mass almost perfectly tracks the opposition to Pope Francis, an opposition fueled by a conservative political agenda, lots of money, and a platform in industrialized Western countries. “The Anglo-traditionalists have targeted the Francis pontificate from day one, conducting a guerrilla warfare against this papacy,” tweeted Christopher Lamb, Vatican correspondent for The Tablet of London and author of The Outsider, a book about the conservative opposition to Francis. “The Pope is saying you can’t use the liturgy in this war anymore.”
        The visibility and influence – in politics and, until Pope Francis came along, at the highest levels of the Catholic Church – of this uber-elite Tridentine cohort is a principal reason why you are seeing so much coverage of this controversy. Many champions of the Tridentine Rite remain, and many of them have vowed to resist the pontiff’s new law, and some may openly break with Rome.
        But it’s important to remember that their departure would be as much a splinter as a schism. The real future of Catholicism lies elsewhere, and always has.

        • Andrew E, your argument smacks of confirmation bias and anger. Your hostility to the TLM is quite obvious. Latin Mass Catholics are not separatists, (a trope the Modernists present.) Please consider that for whatever reason Latin Mass Catholics find the TLM as speaking to their heartfelt and profound need of how to worship Christ. They are not wrong for that. Dominus vobiscum.

          • Joseph,
            I don’t even see an iota of an argument in AndrewE’s post. He is simply cherry-picking quotes by others who offer no evidence other than anecdotal personal opinion. His stuff is also dated and yes, as you say, biased and slanted. Msgr. Pope’s opinion is from 2016; this is 2021. Many left NOM after 2018’s Summer of Shame. More have moved into TLM worship as Francis’ modernistic mania kept showing the promises of modernity to be glitter not gold. OTOH, the tried and known value of the steady pillars of tradition, once found, are proven true and worth more than gold, pearls, and all other goods the world values.

            Jesus Himself did not abolish the Old Law; he fulfilled it.

            A church subscribing to a hermeneutic of rupture, carried to its logically conclusive end, wipes out its very self existence. Christ promised this would not happen to the Church He founded. It’s all so very clear,except to those who cannot see, isn’t it?

        • Andrew E,

          I haven’t read your entire post since it’s got too many words! Instead, I skimmed and read a few first, last and middle sentences. Maybe I’ll shred those later. Now, only these:

          You say, “But it’s important to remember that their departure [Catholics preferring TLM] would be as much a splinter as a schism. The real future of Catholicism lies elsewhere, and always has.”

          Do you remember what Scripture tells us what the apostles believed, at the time of the death of Jesus? What did they think about the future of the Kingdom which Jesus had taught? Why did only one apostle stand at the foot of the cross? Did any apostle expect such a thing as the resurrection???

          Your last sentence suggests that you know where the future of Catholicism lies. Where, pray tell? Are you taking on the role of prophet? Do you speak from the very bosom of the Holy Spirit? Your voice is not the infallible magisterium. Neither is the Pope’s unless he speaks ex Cathedra. This No-2-U of the “Traditionales Custodes” is nothing more than a dirty, smelly slap in the face by the ‘Non-Vicar’ of Christ toward some devout and faithful children of Christ. We CAN AND WE DO give Francis our other cheek.

          Remember that Francis refused the title “Vicar of Christ.” Since he’d rather be the “non-vicar”, I’ll grant him that.

          P.S.: Napoleon Bonaparte famously said that one should never interrupt one’s enemy when he is making a mistake. You are not my enemy, but your main gist is not mine, and you’ve seemed to smother what may have been a few good points by piling one on top of another. You give your reader no breathing room in between your globs of stuff. Few can endure such a compost pile.

          Try to imagine breaks between paragraphs as points of rest, numbers as sign posts, and headings like oases–watering holes–for thirsty animals in the desert. Places of respite appeal to potential readers, particularly when paragraphs are long and full of details. Free advice from an English major. Take ’em or leave ’em.

  8. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, goes a famous saying. The more the church pushed the V2 changes and continues to tinker mindlessly with famous and beloved prayers ( “you” instead of “thou”, proposed changes to the translation of the Our Father, etc)the more things lose their meaning to the faithful. The less things seem timeless and eternal. That is destabilizing. The more we move away from the concept of God as good Creator and fair Judge, and more He is made to seem like your pal, with loving slaps on the back and good times rolling, the less necessary it all seems to some.The revolutionary change of most Catholic couples living together before marriage as a matter of routine, for example. Most now forego a Catholic wedding at all. But its clear those who have been living together can easily avail themselves of a church wedding, with the help of a blandly cooperative priest. It would appear the possibility of confession at this moment doesnt enter into this scenario,not mentioned by the priest, lest the couple flee at the suggestion. What this bodes for the couple’s future fidelity in a world in which rules and moral teaching does not matter,considering only what one wants in their own mind for their own happiness, is left unaddressed. We have had too much of “who am I to judge” from our priests, and too little instruction from the pulpit of the rules, personal accountability, and what is considered sin. As someone famously said,” What kind of club is it, which would have me as a member, and why would I want to belong to it?”.

  9. Focusing on evangelization is just a further focus on self-directed yak. As the Church prays, the Church believes. The degradation of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, or, if you prefer, the Eucharistic celebration, is the origin of everything that has happened in the plummeting life of the Church, and the increasing disintegration of society, which, without the graces provided by true worship, and its resulting true belief, must lead to spiritual, moral and civil chaos. The only solution for the Church’s problems, the only way for the Church to lead the world back from the abyss, is for the bishops (the good ones that remain) to give up all their political posturing and their pseudo corporate financial dabbling, and devote themselves entirely to the restoration of the Sacred Liturgy, beginning with the Mass in all its parts – sacred music, solemn ceremony, respect for the rubrics, proper posture before the True Presence, fundamental catechesis at the homily, etc. Nothing else will work – as the Church prays, so she will believe, and then the light on the mountain will shine again for all to see, and give glory. The Mass is the light.

  10. Abraham was asked to leave behind the “fabric of his life,” for a faith oriented fully toward the Other. So, yes to rebuilding what has been called the fabric-like “plausibility structure,” but what else?

    “If the foundations [!] be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3). St. Augustine might be more relevant to our deconstructed times than even Thomas Aquinas…

  11. I include below the NYT article today by Michael Brendan Dougherty:

    Pope Francis Is Tearing the Catholic Church Apart

    By Michael Brendan Dougherty

    Mr. Dougherty, a senior writer at National Review, has written extensively about faith and the Roman Catholic Church.

    In the summer of 2001, I drove up to Poughkeepsie, N.Y., to find what we called “the traditional Latin Mass,” the form of Roman Catholic worship that stretched back centuries and was last authorized in 1962, before the Second Vatican Council changed everything. Back then, conservative Catholics called people who sought it out “schismatics” and “Rad Trads.”

    The Mass-goers there weren’t exactly a community; we were a clandestine network of romantics, haters of Pope John Paul II, people who had been jilted by the mainstream church and — I believe — some saints.

    There I learned that the Latin language was not the only distinguishing feature of this form of worship. The entire ritual was different from the post-Vatican II Mass. It wasn’t a mere translation into the modern vernacular; less than 20 percent of the Latin Mass survived into the new.

    It took me a month to adapt to its rhythm. But in that thick August air, the long silence before the consecration of the Host fell upon my heart, like sunshine landing on the bud of prayer for the very first time.

    Years later, Pope Benedict allowed devotees of this Mass to flourish in the mainstream of Catholic life, a gesture that began to drain away the traditional movement’s radicalism and reconcile us with our bishops. Today, it is celebrated in thriving parishes, full of young families.

    Yet this Mass and the modestly growing contingent of Catholics who attend it are seen by Pope Francis as a grave problem. He recently released a document, Traditionis Custodes, accusing Catholics like us of being subversives. To protect the “unity” of the church, he abolished the permissions Pope Benedict XVI gave us in 2007 to celebrate a liturgy, the heart of which remains unchanged since the seventh century.

    For those of us who travel long distances to participate in it, its perseverance is a religious duty. For the pope, its suppression is a religious priority. The ferocity of his campaign will push these young families and communities toward the radicalism I imbibed years ago in Poughkeepsie, before Benedict. It will push them toward the belief that the new Mass represents a new religion, one dedicated to the unity of man on earth rather than the love of Christ.

    In the Latin Mass, the priest faces the altar with the people. It never had oddities, as you sometimes encounter in a modern Mass, like balloons, guitar music or applause. The gabby religious talk-show host style of priest is gone. In his place, a priest who does his business quietly, a workmanlike sculptor. By directing the priest toward the drama at the altar, the old Mass opens up space for our own prayer and contemplation.

    In the years after Pope Benedict liberalized the old rite, parishes began to bring back the mystical tones of Gregorian chant, the sacred polyphony written by long-dead composers like Orlando Lassus and Thomas Tallis as well as contemporary composers like Nicholas Wilton and David Hughes.

    These cultural offshoots of the Latin Mass are why, after Vatican II, the English novelists Agatha Christie and Nancy Mitford and other British cultural luminaries sent a letter to Pope Paul VI asking that it continue. Their letter doesn’t even pretend to be from believing Christians. “The rite in question, in its magnificent Latin text, has also inspired a host of priceless achievements in the arts — not only mystical works, but works by poets, philosophers, musicians, architects, painters and sculptors in all countries and epochs. Thus, it belongs to universal culture as well as to churchmen and formal Christians.”

    But the Vatican Council had called for a revision of every aspect of the central act of worship, so the altar rails, tabernacles and baldachins were torn up in countless parishes. This ferment was accompanied by radical new theologies around the Mass. A freshman religious studies major would know that revising all the vocal and physical aspects of a ceremony and changing the rationale for it constitutes a true change of religion. Only overconfident Catholic bishops could imagine otherwise.

    The most candid progressives agreed with the radical traditionalists that the council constituted a break with the past. They called Vatican II “a new Pentecost” — an “Event” — that had given the church a new self-understanding. They believed their revolution had been stalled in 1968 when Pope Paul VI issued “Humanae Vitae,” affirming the church’s opposition to artificial contraception, and then put it on ice in 1978 with the election of Pope John Paul II.

    To stamp out the old Latin Mass, Pope Francis is using the papacy in precisely the way that progressives once claimed to deplore: He centralizes power in Rome, usurps the local bishop’s prerogatives and institutes a micromanaging style that is motivated by paranoia of disloyalty and heresy. Perhaps it’s to protect his deepest beliefs.

    Pope Francis envisions that we will return to the new Mass. My children cannot return to it; it is not their religious formation. Frankly, the new Mass is not their religion. In countless alterations, the belief that the Mass was a real sacrifice and that the bread and wine, once consecrated, became the body and blood of our Lord was downplayed or replaced in it. With the priest facing the people, the altar was severed from the tabernacle. The prescribed prayers of the new Mass tended never even to refer to that structure anymore as an altar but as the Lord’s table. The prayers that pointed to the Lord’s real presence in the sacrament were conspicuously replaced with ones emphasizing the Lord’s spiritual presence in the assembled congregation.

    The prayers of the traditional Mass emphasized that the priest was re-presenting the same sacrifice Christ made at Calvary, one that propitiated God’s wrath at sin and reconciled humanity to God. The new Mass portrayed itself as a narrative and historical remembrance of the events recalled in Scripture, and the offering and sacrifice was not of Christ, but of the assembled people, as the most commonly used Eucharistic prayer in the new Mass says, “from age to age you gather a people to Thyself, in order that from east to west a perfect offering may be made.”

    For Catholics, how we pray shapes what we believe. The old ritual physically aims us toward an altar and tabernacle. In that way it points us to the cross and to heaven as the ultimate horizon of man’s existence. By doing so, it shows that God graciously loves us and redeems us despite our sins. And the proof is in the culture this ritual produces. Think of Mozart’s great rendition of faith in the Eucharist: “Ave Verum Corpus” (Hail True Body).

    The new ritual points us toward a bare table, and it consistently posits the unity of humankind as the ultimate horizon of our existence. In the new Mass, God owes man salvation, because of the innate dignity of humanity. Where there was faith, now presumption. Where there was love, now mere affirmation, which is indistinguishable from indifference. It inspires weightless ditties like “Gather Us In.” Let’s sing about us!

    I believe the practice of the new Mass forms people to a new faith: To become truly Christian, one must cease to be Christian at all. Where the new faith is practiced with a zealous spirit — as in Germany now — bishops and priests want to conform the religion’s teaching to the moral norms of the nonbelieving society around them. When the new faith was young, after the council, it expressed itself in tearing up the statues, the ceremonies and religious devotions that existed before.

    I don’t know if bishops will adopt Francis’ zeal to crush the Latin Mass. I don’t know how painful they are willing to make our religious life. If they do, they will create — or reveal — more division in the church. The old slogan of the traditional Latin Mass movement comes to mind: We resist you to the face.

    I have faith that one day, even secular historians will look upon what was wrought after Vatican II and see it for what it was: the worst spasm of iconoclasm in the church’s history — dwarfing the Byzantine iconoclasm of the ninth century and the Protestant Reformation.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/12/opinion/pope-francis-latin-mass.html

    • We read: “But the Vatican Council had called for a revision of every aspect of the central act of worship, so the altar rails, tabernacles and baldachins were torn up in countless parishes.”

      To be precise, it was not the Council itself (Sacrosanctum Concilium, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy) that went iconoclastic with a vengeance…

      Instead, and for example, interruptive applause is prohibited: “…no special honors are to be paid in the liturgy to any private person or classes of persons, whether in the ceremonies or by external display” (n. 32). Plus this: “Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites” (n:36:1). Etc.

      And this accountability, ignored by enthused/intimidated/lemming bishops it seems everywhere, and by Rome:

      “Adaptations which are judged to be useful or necessary should then be submitted to the Apostolic See, by whose consent [!] they may be introduced [….] To ensure that adaptations are made with all necessary circumspection, the Apostolic See will grant power to this same territorial ecclesiastical authority to permit and to direct, as the case requires, the necessary preliminary experiments [!] over a determined period of time [56 years and counting!] among certain groups suited for the purpose” (n. 40:1,2).

    • Thank you for sharing this.

      The writer posits clear distinctions between the adherents of the two ‘forms.’ Eric Sammons of Crisis early mentioned this, but I’m not certain he explained it in detail. In a certain sense, Francis’ claims in TC that he fears for unity, reveal just exactly how much he fears the difference!

      All the more reason for our horror, then, that Francis chose one form over the other to foster his wished-for unity. One would have hoped that the Vicar of Christ would have access to the ear and advice of his superior and opened his field hospital to the weak, the poor, the marginalized, the richly and wondrously vulnerably blessed. Now we know for sure the consolation of the Lord and the power of His army amassed in battle array.

      This entire escapade serves only to confirm faith that Christ does prune his vineyard. Remaining in Him, He will bear us good fruit.

    • “My children cannot return to it. It is not their religious formation. The new Mass is not their Religion.” If many in the Latin Mass Community agree with you then you are contributing to the disunity that P. Francis is writing about. This thought and practice is doing damage to the Catholic Faithful who pray and work for Peace and Unity in the Catholic Church, One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. You are wanting the Church to bend to your culture just as the Progressive Catholics want Christ’s teachings to bend to their way of thinking. Both are sinful.

      • Nora Gallinari, What does Francis mean by disunity? Francis has caused so much disunity in the Church in 8 years. We, Traditionalists, are in no possible way asking the Church to bend to our way of thinking. We are clamoring for the Church to return to God’s way of thinking. We are asking to worship God the way Catholics have been doing for 2000 years. The progressives have been holding the Church back for 60 years. It is the Modernists who have caused disunity. Sure, blame it on the Trads!

      • The disunity comes from a disquieting discontinuity.

        Either the perpetual indult of Quo Primum is valid or it is not. If it can be invalidated by a more modern writ, then every Papal pronouncement is merely a nullification in waiting.

        It seems that the present Bishop of Rome issued this not because he found a defect in the Mass, but imagined an attitude among its adherents. Yes, the very same Pope who uttered the words “who am I to judge”.

        If this time is not the beginning of some great global tribulation, I suspect that in the future, there will need to be an examination of this Papacy and its effects on the Office itself-and there will need to be a reaffirmation that the Pope is the custodian of a sacred deposit-and the finality of the authority of the Petrine office does extend without limit.

    • To quote one sentence from Michael Brendan Dougherty’s article:
      “Frankly, the new Mass is not their religion.”
      I personally am not against the latin mass or those who find it a preferred form of worshiping Jesus. However there is a problem when it is seen as defining a religion. It is also a problem when those participate look upon others as less catholic. It is also a form of narrow thinking to assume that the newer form of the mass and Post Vatican 2 is the cause of diminishing attendance at mass.
      Personally I think the situation is more complicated as it also affects Protestant congregations.
      A central issue that occurs to me and not mentioned in the above CWR article is in circumstances whereby our religion has been adhered to nominally but the lived actions, choices and life priorities of leadership and the wider congregation do not reflect the character, priorities and attitudes of The One we follow, Jesus. There has been on display for the world to see, a disconnect between the Character of Jesus and the witness of the Body Of Christ. One example; For as long as The Doctrine of Discovery, issued by Pope Alexander VI on May 4, 1493 remains and is not retracted, our Catholic church is in this respect betraying the Gospel we preach.
      Jesus in his ministry made it clear that outward adherence to religious practice is not what he requires but a transformation of the heart. When attendance at mass is mandated for Catholics there would inevitably be those attending whose heart was far from true worship. To take this further it is problematic for any individual to know where another’s heart is truly at with respect to what the Gospels teach about following repentance as turning from our former ways and reorient out thinking and life choices to FOLLOW Jesus. Another example, In following Jesus there are professions and jobs I could not do as in doing so I would engage in activity that was not consistent with following Jesus.
      Young people in their formative years see things in black and white, they are very perceptive and attuned to inconsistencies in what an adult says as opposed to how the adult acts and lives and they have a natural distain for hypocrisy. Of course they are not as focussed on working their own personal growth in that area as that stage in life is yet to come into focus.
      These are among the realities the Church leaders and adults must accept for the younger generations to have trust in the authenticity of our spirituality, our faith in Jesus and the health of our Catholic Church.

        • Very good post, Chris, thank you. From the time the Church was established, it attracted members – people who accepted Jesus and his teachings, not some special services, prayers or rituals. It was Jesus. And it was in Jesus that the Church began to grow.
          Religious services of any kind and in whatever language do not make people Catholic (though they do help Catholics to nourish the fate they have). It is only Jesus and the awareness of the significance of his redemptive mission and his Church that will bring people to him. Do people see our Lord’s love and light in us? Do we smell like the sheep? Or, do they see us as self-servers or Pharisees?

          • One is the personification of a self-serving SELF-WORSHIPING spit-in-the-face-of-God Pharisee if he convinces himself that liturgy doesn’t matter and is not inherent to a commitment to Christ.

    • The part of hatred against St. John Paul the Great from Traditionalists has always kept me wondering. At the beginning of his Pontificate, he immediately focused on giving us back the TLM. When the Bishops didn’t respond to him and those who did, lied. St. John Paul the Great gave the first Indult calling on the Bishops to be generous on its application. But that wasn’t enough for some, they refused to attend the TLM because it was an “Indult Mass”. Strange! St. John Paul the Great crushed every Modernist heresy but no one took notice as they never listened to what he said. In today’s Church, this is part of the problem, “Biting the hand that fed you.”

      • The silly article was hardly a “rebuttal.” It not only doesn’t address the issues at all but was just another liberal pseudo-analysis that pretends to rise above the issues by trivializing them to products of sociological categories that were ignoring “global” realities, which in fact has nothing at all to do with the matter.

  12. There are several factors:
    1) Television uniformly derided Christianity. This has been constant since the 1990’s. When parents put TV’s in their kids rooms, kids began watching cable documentary stations like The History Chanel, Discovery Channel, etc. that uniformly told kids that Jesus never existed, religions have been mostly evil, homosexuals are pure and noble, etc. Parents were largely unaware of this indoctrination. When children watched dramas, the evil characters were Christians, church goers were hypocrites, etc. From a tender age, children have been taught hour after hour after hour, that religion is evil.
    2) Catholic priests became well known child abusers. Do you think that people want to go to the church well known for child abuse? People are not stupid. They understood that there was at least a 50-50 chance their priest was a homosexual, and that raised the chances the priest would go after their kids. People stopped going. Until this is fixed, you have no chance to recover church attendance.
    3) Women went to work. So women who used to take care of all their shopping and other chores during the week became women who needed every hour of the weekend to get shopping done, do home chores, etc. Sunday mornings were no longer free time that could be used to go to church, it became valuable chore time, and some people decided to skip mass.
    4) Bullivant is correct – we no longer live in close knit communities that share values. We live isolated from each other, and look to the greater national culture for our shared values. Catholics live among Protestants and do not want to rock the boat by differing with them. People no longer see any great difference between Protestant and Catholic faith, and most clergy are unwilling to hightlight distinctions.
    5) More people are college educated and feel entirely comfortable challenging church doctrine in every way. And they do so. Coming from a college provided worldview, they demand that every Catholic teaching be justified and conform to their personal worldview. They do not view the church as authoritative in any way. For the most part these college educated people are woefully miseducated regarding religion, and have no basis for thinking about religion, so they form conclusions based on secular principles.

    • The importance of your Point One cannot be overstated, samton.

      The situation gets worse and worse.

      It’s especially acute on PBS, where believing Christians portrayed in their mystery series are either sexual predators, cult-following whackos, or the murderer.

      I noticed that even in the latter ‘Fr. Brown’ mysteries, Fr. Brown himself counsels members of his flock to ignore the teachings of the Bible against homosexuality “because it was written in very different times.”

      Chesterton would not have sat still for such a desecration.

      Sadly, there are many Catholics who don’t have the faith commitment to stand strong against the winds of culture. After all, it can mean being singled out and ridiculed — by nearly everyone.

    • Many people are not “college educated”; they are college indoctrinated. This is especially true for anybody who matriculated and graduated after the 1980’s-and this would mean people who are under the age of 55 or so.

      The college campus has been -for a least a century-afflicted with a metastatic cancer where pathological nihilism and cynicism are taught as healthy skepticism, and where every virtue is transmogrified into a vice. There are few institutions unaffected by the contemporary miasma that are not testaments to Orwell’s famous injunction that some ideas are so stupid that only intellectuals believe them.

      Of course we have more pseudo-intellectuals peddling lunacy than enlightenment than any serious intellect.

  13. Though Catholic clergy and laity don’t want to hear it, the most powerful anti-evangelization force and a huge contributor to the exodus is the popular culture: literature, film, music, visual art, poetry, etc., absent any Catholic sensibility. Worse yet, many Catholics accept or embrace this popular culture and are formed by it, whether they know it or not.

  14. I have attended a Canadian RC Church for 11 years. In all that time, not one person has spoken to me or acknowledged me.I’m leaving.

    • Sorry, Alan, but I hope you may come to see where your planned course of action is not in your best self-interest. It also does not serve to build up the body of Christ which, currently is bloodied, bludgeoned, and battered (under custodial care of one Jorge Bergoglio and cohorts).

      If you leave the faith, the Church will be made worse. Don’t you see? I’m thinking of that old saw of St. Francis which goes something like, “Let me seek to console rather than be consoled,” etc. Why not try it? Say hello to some of your fellow inmates. See what happens. But be ready to smile and go to the next person if the first answer is: “F— off.” Ask Christ to console you, and He will, all in His good time. All in His good time. Wait for Him.

    • I wish that were the case for me. I can’t stand the phony happy talk of all the greeters and ushers trying to prove how much better they are than “old-fashioned” Catholics who did stodgy things that reminded them that they were there to worship God and not themselves. I hate being reminded about the coffee and donuts after Mass. It’s hard to focus on an encounter with Jesus when you feel like throwing up. Don’t give up. Find those who live the faith in the trenches. Find your local pro-life group who endure being spit upon while praying at abortuaries and join them. They will give you an authentic welcoming. meiron is right. The Church would be less without you.

    • Alan, do you go to church so that people would greet you? Or do you go to church to worship Jesus? And if not being greeted means so much to you, have you tried taking the initiative to meet people?

      • The Trinity or Triune Oneness is really tricky…

        Do we “worship” Jesus (a quaternary?), or ultimately (and instead?) is it: “Through him, and with him, and in him, O God, almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, forever and ever”(?).”

  15. On airplanes they tell you to put your oxygen mask on first before you help those around you. Catholics should strengthen themselves first, and work to fix the problems at home within their parishes. This includes the Bishops too. It certainly didn’t help that they closed down Masses for covid with nary a fight. That action told everyone that our physical health is more important than our spiritual health. Until their perspective changes, and they actually lead, I’m not sure the message of the importance of attending Mass will stick.

    • Carolyn,

      I scratch my head with puzzlement when I hear that Catholics need to evangelize the outside world. Meanwhile, the ‘faithful’ Catholics keep leaving. Who wants to join a club to replace dead or diminishing members? Then again, with some group of Catholics on the pope’s chopping block, one may reasonably wonder who may be next. What other “NO2Us” may the pontiff have hidden up his chasuble. One theorist wonders whether he plans more changes to the NOM which would have driven more to the TLM.

      The apostle Matthew (10:28) kept rattling and shaking the empty pews, yet the bishops didn’t seem to hear.

      “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

      Image the lonely last hours of dying without family, without friend, without priest. I know one nun and her twin sister (also a nun) who suffered alone, one dying, the other hospitalized with COVID, sans priest. Tooth and nail prying were done to get the priest in to see them even before COVID struck. So very sad.

      I know that my FSSP priests went out no matter what. They dispensed the sacraments. When Mass was disallowed, they offered Communion Services. Then the bishop learned of that linguistic loophole and stopped that too. The priests persisted, offering the sacraments to anyone who visited them at their home, or they went to parishioners’ homes when called on to do so.

  16. By their fruits shall you know them.

    Decline since the early 1960s. There was a controversial event that occurred then. I don’t think that a picture needs to be painted.

      • If you thing Vatican II was an effective medicine against a nascent mass apostasy-where is your evidence that it limited or mitigated the condition you believe it was designed to treat?

        • From the Christian Today website I got this. Should interest you.
          “In 1900 there were fewer than 9 million Christians in Africa. Now there are more than 541 million. In the last 15 years alone, the Church in Africa has seen a 51 per cent increase, which works out on average at around 33,000 people either becoming Christians or being born into Christian families each day in Africa alone.”

          • Those figures are indeed heartening, Mal, although I’d note that the rapid growth of the Catholic Church in Africa accelerated well before VII. In any case, how do you account for the catastrophic meltdown of Mass attendance and the exodus of priests and religious immediately following the conclusion of the Council, especially in Western Europe whose theologians and bishops dominated the event? Too bad that the more solid African clerics weren’t represented at all. eh?

          • If the increase in Christians between 1900 and 2020 is 532 million, and given that there are 365 days per year, then the average increase per day is closer to 12,000 than 33,000. Although, the increase per day NOW could well be the figure reported.

            By some reports a huge share of this number as in the big-tent “churches” of bogus Prosperity Christianity. In 1900 there were two million Catholics; in 2009 there were 158 million. The rest, Protestant of some sort. It is estimated that by 2025 one-sixth of Catholics around the globe will be in Africa.

      • Whatever the precise intentions for VII was convened – and certainly there was no crisis such as the Council of Trent addressed in the 16th century – the stampede out of the Church followed. We can talk forever,though, about the intentions of John XIII or the Council Fathers without reaching any definitive conclusions. The question for me is what do we do about the mess we’re in right now? VII, in my view, can’t help us very much.

  17. Rome’s problem today is not Vatican 2. The problem is what impelled VC 2. The spur was the mangled body of an immense crime, a vast injustice never so brazen and ubiquitous: a little boy in a peaked woolen cap with hands over his head, the turned back of a mother shielding her infant, earth that moved for days, the naked lines inching toward the showers. With film and audio, with photo images, text on paper and numbers tattooed onto skin, evil had never stared the world in the eye so directly; and nothing and no one was more deeply implicated than the Church.

    Christianity began as a living monument to the self sacrifice of an innocent man. Nowadays called tikkun ha-olom, to help God repair the world, it was an ancient instinct. It became an enterprise that fed priests, authorized ideologues and authenticated kings. Beneath it all that dead Jew’s bones was steadily used to cudgel his brethren into a grotesque misery to serve as divine confirmation of their wickedness and of the Faith’s truth.

    But then a new crucifixion, again innocent Jews, again unspeakable cruelty and injustice. It was an unexpected, long awaited Second Coming.

    The Church’s first response was to help perpetrators escape. The second, to abet Deniers, the third, to change the liturgy. The empty pews stand in testimony to the decency of the faithful.

  18. A disciple in the ancient biblical world actively imitated both the life and teaching of the master. It was a deliberate apprenticeship that made the fully formed disciple a living copy of the master.

    True faith induces humility, as a holy heart is a humble heart because to walk in humility (St Bernard, Humility; a virtue by which a man knowing himself as he truly is, abases himself) is to walk, His ‘Way’ of Truth/love, before our Father in heaven.

    “But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you”

    For professed Christians not to do so, would imply, as yet, that we do not have the full light of Christ within us as

    “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your vision is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your vision is poor, your whole body will be full of darkness”

    So, we need to be very careful, especially in our own assumed relationship with God and our fellow man as we need to see true discipleship, not mere words; we see this discipleship in St Mother Teresa, who overcame hostility from Hinduism etc. As initially, when she went out into the streets of Calcutta, she had to confront hostility in creating a centre for the destitute, but the ‘gentleness (Humility) of her witness, was accepted, because her witness was authentic’.

    She approached the goodness within men’s hearts, encouraging them, in words to the effect of ‘be good Hindus’, understanding that the Truth (The divine spark) resides in all men’s hearts, waiting to be nourished and they responded positively. So, in this lived reality (Discipleship) these words by the Master would be applicable…

    “Whoever gives to one of these little (Humble) ones even a cup of cold water because he is a ‘disciple’, truly, I say to you he shall not lose his reward”

    ‘Because he is a disciple’ one gives (Water) in humility, a sincere acknowledgement of manifest goodness/Truth, reflecting the indwelling Divine spark within the heart/soul of the giver, now ignited and waiting to be further enkindled by the Holy Spirit. As “ other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice”

    Here we see the basis of reciprocal love in action, emanating from humility (a sincere acknowledgement of goodness) before true Discipleship. Through the eyes of faith, we come to see, as God wants (Wills) us to see, that is, that every other, is made in the image of God.

    I believe that Confirmed Discipleship (Male and Female) is the way forward for the Church in our present-day: As to-day for many it is easier to accept the status quo as we the ‘laity’ have been led for generations as The Eucharist is the centre of Christian worship and by implication, the priest is our ‘Focal Point’, as he is given a special charisma via ordination.

    To Peter “feed my flock” we will always need central direction (Leadership).
    The place-name Emmaus is derived from “warm spring” – for me symbolic of the His Way (Journey) the encounter of ‘warm embrace’ in previous times manifest as “see how those Christians love one and other”

    So how do we encounter each other on the ‘Way’ in the market (Working) place of life, from the Tea Plantation to the Office as partaking of the ‘warm spring’ (Grace)?

    Where are the working disciples?

    Food for thought: ‘The Emmaus encounter’ incorporates ‘joyous living’ in sharing (breaking) the Bread (Sustenance) of Life publicly, but not the Wine (Blood) suffering of full (Confirmed) discipleship (Focal point) of His Way.

    I have read that “The grace of Confirmation, properly administered, is real, but the recipient has to be properly disposed to receive it” And for this reason, I believe that The Sacrament of Confirmation should only be conferred on Mature Christians, those capable of discerning the ‘full’ implication /calling/reality of His ‘Way’ of life. While praying not to be led “into temptation (The test)”, rather “but deliver us from evil”.

    “For the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”

    The Church has lost the sense of awe (mystical tradition) before the ‘living’ Inviolate Word (Will) of God. And this loss has revealed itself in that the educated within the Church have colluding ..V.. with the elite in the ‘ongoing’ breaking of the Second Commandment

    “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain”

    To permit this sin to continue is to collude with it “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire/Truth of your love. And You shall renew the face of the earth/Church. O, God”

    Please consider continuing via the link.
    https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2021/08/02/when-harlots-ruled-the-church/#comment-272532

    kevin your brother
    In Christ

      • No! thank you Christopher for the many excellent posts that you have made over the last two years

        kevin your brother
        In Christ

    • Kevin,
      I confess that I am too obtuse to see your point. I am also too constrained by time to read lengthy posts (although I do find time to write some!) What do you intend your Emmaeus eisegesis to do?

      “Food for thought: ‘The Emmaus encounter’ incorporates ‘joyous living’ in sharing (breaking) the Bread (Sustenance) of Life publicly, but not the Wine (Blood) suffering of full (Confirmed) discipleship (Focal point) of His Way.”

      The cause of the sadness of the disciples on the road to Emmaeus according to scripture was that they did not know the Resurrection. They became joyful after it was revealed to them.

      The Body of Christ contains the Blood of Christ. Jesus offered every jot and tittle of his life, all its joy and all its suffering, to His Father. His sacrifice consisted exactly in that He offered ALL to his Father. Just so, each and every part of our life, all our joy and all our suffering, we ought offer Him.

      James (4:8-10)says: Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn, and weep. Turn your laughter to mourning, and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.

      • Thank you Meiron for your comment “What do you intend your Emmaeus eisegesis to do?

        As stated in my post above in relation to true discipleship, the Emmaus encounter gives us ‘Food for thought’, at a time when the Church in the West is been decimated by dark forces within and from outside the Church ..V..

        “The cause of the sadness of the disciples on the road to Emmaeus according to scripture was that they did not know the Resurrection. They became joyful after it was revealed to them”

        Yes, Meiron that is true, but part of that joyful encounter/revelation was that He physically disappeared from view while in essence, He was still with them “for where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Teaching us to walk His ‘Way in ‘Trust’ while Joyfully been accompanied by the Holy Spirit and each other. So can the Emmaus encounter show/teach us Christians out in the world how to manifest Unity of Purpose while making ourselves known to each other? As an aside, symbolically on the earthly plain, the sharing of bread is the sharing of life.

        “The Body of Christ contains the Blood of Christ”

        Yes, that is what the Church teaches, nevertheless in the Emmaus encounter the Wine (Blood) of the suffering of full (Confirmed) discipleship (Focal point) of His Way.” Was not manifest.

        I believe that the Shepherd leader for a new invigorated Church will be a humble one, with the capacity to discern and direct the potential in others, leading them also to become (Working Confirmed Disciples) Shepherds in the marketplace of life, from the Tea Plantation to the Office, who together hold each other responsible for their combined actions, underpinned by total honesty, the serving of the Truth in all situations would be the binding mortar holding these new emerging structures together.

        Please consider continuing via the link
        https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2019/10/17/seminaries-and-formation-one-priests-perspective-and-suggestion/#comment-157901

        kevin your brother
        In Christ

  19. I can’t help but say Bl. Dom Dolindos favorite prayer ” Jesus, You take care of everything” I attend the NO but know some families that attend theTLM . I have always found them to be respectful and generous and we are able to share our love of Jesus Christ. I hope the Vatican makes no moves against the Byzantine rite as I now pray once a month, joining my prayers to a Byzantine church group that prays for alcoholics and their families. The prayer is called the Akathist,a prayer to God through Mary and was read and praised by St. Louis De Montfort. I pray it at home. I also attend Mass on Sunday and do Adoration through the week. I say all the above just to point out some of the many sources of help we have during these seemingly dark times. This.Church belongs to God, the Blessed Trinity, through the Blessed Virgin Mary, and He will work it out.

  20. A considerable number of priests and nuns laicized after Vatican II. While many people lament that, I wonder if it was actually for the best. Their hearts may not have been in their vocations from the beginning.

  21. The traditional Latin Mass is the glory of the Catholic Church. It forms an integral part of the core of Catholic tradition and, as such, cannot be destroyed without destryong the Church itself. It is therefore destined to survive and triumph.

  22. The Holy Eucharist is the key to bringing Catholics back to the faith. If one believes in the true presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist how could they not attend Mass on an at least a weekly basis. Polls show that 70 to 80 percent of professed Catholics do not believe in the true presence. Furthermore, polls also show a significant percent are ignorant of Church teaching relative to the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist. As proclaimed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church “the Eucharist is the sum and summary of our faith.” The Eucharist separates the Catholic Church from the vast majority of Protestant faiths where it is treated as symbolic. There are bishops currently showing significant concern with respect to this issue, while there are other bishops that seem more concerned about secular issues.

      • Right, and seeing with fresh eyes that Jesus is not found through a trite banner, or cheap artwork imported from Communist China, or as a private savior disconnected from the Church he founded, or even as a hybrid half god-half man floating somewhere between heaven and earth…

        Rather than Jesus as such a “quaternary,” instead, Jesus Christ always within the Trinity as the Second Person, who then becomes Man (that is, the Incarnation as totally Man while totally God). And who elevates human nature into himself—a transformation made possible through faith and the sacraments of the Church, and centrally through the Real Presence in the Eucharist. This is incomprehensible, but true. Indeed, the Truth.

        Let us pray, then, for “Eucharistic coherence,” especially because (!) some clerics in sheep’s clothing would rather offer a thin gruel of half-truths adulterated further with various and comfortable enthusiasms, slogans, and pseudo-philosophies of the moment.

        • Thank you Peter.
          Speaking something of my testimony, we cling to our faith and hold to the Truth in our personal journey from childhood to adult. There is some waxing and waining, times of doubt, times of fervour and sometimes there are times of great hardship and struggle. We strive often against our nature to be obedient to the faith we share in communion with our brothers and sisters in the faith. Like any community on earth, a disparate bunch of individuals some of whom will not be natural companions.

          For me, in my heart of hearts, eucharistic coherence was realised after the anointing of the Holy Spirit in my mid 20’s when there was an otherwise inexplicable transformation of my mind that like ripples in a pond after a stone is dropped, enabled over the proceeding months and years, a coherence between faith and cognitive understanding, and a lived relationship with The Triune Mystery but mystery no more. This transformation occurred one evening during easter after watching a movie about the Ministry of Jesus and his time on earth. I was done! Involuntary weeping at the realisation that I could approach the feet of Jesus in my sinfull state and his overwhelming love melted my fear, my lostness, my aloneness and my heart. I was his, he was mine, we were one and I didn’t deserve one bit of his mercy yet my heart of hearts, my being from head to toe was melted by the Love of the Redeemer. His request of me,…. to take my hands off the steering wheel of my life and hand it over to him Jesus Son of the Father, Holy Spirit my companion, nothing held back. First was to buy a bible and read the new testament. Read think, pray, join others, seek mentors who where solid in the faith, be accountable, stay true to the core tenants of Faith in Jesus. Relationship with others is a must have. It was simple when i was a child to believe and be devoted. Simple and beautiful. As an adult for some years not so pretty as the saying goes but i strived for Truth while living with my own inconsistencies with the truth and the inevitable consequences! Then came the change of that easter evening, never to be forgotten!
          This is no attempt at anything like a comprehensive theology however, as an adult, “Eucharistic Coherence” came to entail three aspects. First a conversion accompanied by an anointing of the Holy Spirit that changed everything for me. I know it was and still is, even at the time in the absence of outward signs like speaking in tongues etc. From that evening on there is a certainty of faith and spiritual relationship that has given tangible, natural and logical consequences.
          Second, the Mass entered into as an active participant in relationship and unity with all present in the church building, and the culmination of The Eucharist shared with all.
          The real Presence in the Consecrated Host and the presence of Christ acknowledged in each one of us, our individuality when in unity becoming The Mystical Body of Christ. We must leave any disunity not only outside the four walls of the building but pertaining to our interpersonal relationships! This is a central aspect of our communion as the Body of Christ. This for me is the third essential aspect of “Eucharistic Coherence”. The relationship with fellow believers and on into how I relate to all people following the example of Jesus because the real power of our faith is Love in all its dimensions as taught by Jesus. It was Pope Benedict who said, “love is the source of all truth.” [ Deus Caritas Est, ]

          If we want people to return to Faith in Jesus and Fellowship with the Body of Christ, we need to speak The Truth in a language they understand and live in accordance with The Truth of the Gospel. Like many things of our faith there is the paradox. It is quite simple really yet it’s the greatest challenge we all face!

  23. Its much simpler. Catholic attendance has declined more than overall protestants. Non-denom has grown at Catholic expense according to pew.

    I believe there are 2 major reasons. Divorce and poor catechesis.

    I teach 8th grade psr (confirmation year) and it is shocking the lack of knowledge. 80% could not name the Trinity and the same number couldnt look up a Bible verse. I had to start their education from scratch – “There is a God…”
    Most Catholics do not know their faith. Few priests preach the faith. My own Pastor leans more to social justice and “service” issues. People do not need a church for that. They can get the same thing from our media, public schools and politicians (without the moral restrictions).
    Our Bisops and priests by and large are failing us.

  24. Some decades past, I hung onto the following reflection.
    I don’t know the source:

    “Adults,
    discovering their spiritual emptiness,
    look to the Church
    not for a breezy bon mot,
    but for the hard truths of
    mystical life, fasting and prayer.
    Lapsed Catholics,
    tiptoeing back into Church
    on Sunday Morning,
    look not for a communal meal
    and a handshake,
    but for a holy Sacrifice
    and the promise of redemption.

    Our faith is like a strong drink,
    or a plate of hearty food.
    We can make it easier to accept,
    by watering it down
    and taking out the spices.
    But who wants a watery drink,
    or a tasteless dish? (‘If the salt
    has lost its savor…’)
    Our society is begging for read meat.
    If we offer a thin soup, instead,
    we shall rightly
    be rejected.”

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