Saturday, November 10, 2012
Vortex: What Do We Do Now?
I love this Vortex (from yesterday, Nov. 9)! It reminds me a bit of a post I did last January called “How to Choose a New Parish”.
A major point that Michael Voris is making in this episode of the Vortex is that:
…the Catholic faith has been so watered-down and Protestantized in most parishes across the country that its ability to transform people’s lives – meaning make them grow in holiness because that is the point after all – has been neutered.”
So a huge number of people are now asking: What do we do now? Republicans experts are moaning and groaning and analyzing.
Even many faithful Catholics are standing around haplessly wondering, what do we do now?
Actually – when you understand what the problem REALLY is, the answer is very simple.
Here is the problem: the Catholic faith has been so watered-down and Protestantized in most parishes across the country that its ability to transform people’s lives – meaning make them grow in holiness because that is the point after all – has been neutered.
So faithful Catholics and even those who suspect that something isn’t quite right at their parish need to just do what they did this week and vote – except this time with their feet.
Parishes that are not about challenging you to be a saint need to be walked away from. And before we continue here – a special note to parents and most especially fathers: you are responsible for the souls of your children.
Their eternal lives are in your hands. They belong to God, but you have been given custody and stewardship over them until they reach adulthood, and the choices they make in adulthood will be heavily influenced by how you teach them in their childhood.
Never forget that you will have to give an account for how you raised them or failed to properly form them in the faith.
So back to the parishes: The simple reality of the usual Catholic parish these days is that for the most part, it is woefully unprepared to produce saints. And that is the ONLY reason a parish exists. Period.
Why are they so unprepared? Because for nearly 50 years the authentic faith has not been taught, the sacramental and devotional life of the parish has declined precipitously and most of the people sitting in the pews no longer believe at least some of what the Church teaches. You want proof? Look around the parking lot on Sunday and count the Obama bumper stickers.
Now, many, many Catholics who stroll into Mass on Sundays – or who take the more convenient approach and go to Mass on Saturday evening to “get it out of the way” – are simply unaware of how their faith and the faith of their children is slowly being drained, sucked out of them each week.
But we need to wake up. If you suspect that something is wrong, it probably is. Apply the same intuition test to your parish as you would with letting a weirdo babysit your kids.
Here are some red flags that should set off bells: First of all, when people come in to the parish, how are they dressed? Respectfully, or like they are stopping over on their way to the mall or the beach?
Do they genuflect before entering the pew? Do they arrive in time to prepare themselves for the sacrifice of Our Lord that they are about to enter into? Are there any prayers being offered publicly before the Mass?
Once Mass begins, what type of music are you hearing? Is it all about the band? Is it solemn, befitting the arrival of the King of the Universe, or is it geared to making you feel all emotional and hyper-sensitive?
In other words, does it lift your mind and soul to Heaven, or does it keep you earthbound and all warm and fuzzy?
Does the priest feel the need to act like he’s running for office on the way up the aisle, or does he show the proper demeanor and respect for his office – which at this moment is to be in persona Christi?
Is Mass celebrated with dignity, or is it all about Father and stupid jokes? Are there altar girls and lay people all over the sanctuary?
Does the homily EVER mention Hell and Sin and Damnation and Evil – or do you just get a steady stream week after week of being told you should not judge your neighbor and God is Love, without ever explaining that Love means sacrifice and picking up your cross – whatever it is.
Are you ever presented with the manifest evils of contraception and divorce and re-marriage and co-habitation, or does the priest play it safe and keep on the unchallenging ground of “be nice” and “love” and “forgive everything”?
Sidebar: the spiritual life is not comprised of generalities. It is made up of precise, definitive choices in the concrete reality of our day-to-day lives. It is on these things that we will be called to give an account – not general concepts of justice and love.
Our Blessed Lord says, “If you love Me, you will keep my Commandments.” That is the measure, nothing else. Are you living a Holy Life – NOT, do you agree with some abstract concept of doing good?
Do people receive Holy Communion standing and nonchalantly in their hands – practically unaware that the Lord of Life is who they are receiving? And once they’ve grabbed their piece of bread, do they make for parking lot – cuz they just gotta get out and get to the mall, and after all God understands?
Does what’s left of the congregation feel the need to applaud the ministers of music because it was just so uplifting and made them cry? Because remember and never forget, the point of Mass is to FEEL good. Yeah, there’s all that God stuff and all, and that’s fine, but what’s important is that I have held hands during the Our Father and shaken hands with everyone within 700 yards of me and waved to all the rest that I couldn’t reach.
Once Mass is over, does the noise and clamor begin immediately, or is an air of respect for being in the temple of God – the gate of Heaven – present in the Church?
And outside of Mass itself, is the parish vibrant? And that doesn’t refer to the number of social justice committee meetings. It refers to the devotional and intellectual life. Is Jesus in the tabernacle, front and center? Is there a crucifix or one of those ghastly resurrectifixes?
Does the bulletin have faith-enriching articles and information in it – or does Fr. Nice say nice things to make you feel nice?
Are there statues of saints in the Church to help foster our intellects and jog our memories that the Church extends beyond our mere mortal experience of it in this time and place, and that these people achieved the holiness that God commands of all us?
How about Confession? Are there any [set hours], or is it “by appointment”? When there is confession, does anyone show up? Is there Adoration and if so, do people attend? Is there ever Benediction? Does anyone in the parish, including the priest, even know what that is?
Is there a sense obviously permeating the parish life that the mission here is to save souls and instruct people in the one true faith established by the Son of God? Or are we all here to do nice things and help people and put on fundraisers?
If you are encountering most of the things on this list – which is not all encompassing – then you need to beware. Your faith life is threatened and probably diminishing, and you probably have no idea.
You cannot sit in a lackluster spiritual environment for long and not become lackluster in your faith. And let’s be clear: clapping and enthusiasm and applause from the pews does not make parish life vibrant; it makes it loud – but a faith life is often quiet.
The reason Catholicism in America is on the rapid decline is because the faith itself – belief – is on a rapid decline; and the reason is because the central aspect of Catholic Life – the Mass – is in shambles.
Once you recognize this, you cannot participate in it any longer. If your parish calls itself a “Catholic Community” on its front sign as opposed to a parish – watch out! You know – St. Mark’s Catholic Community as opposed to St. Mark’s Catholic Parish. Someone or ones have made the deliberate choice to refer to themselves that way, and names matter.
It’s a darn good warning that inside that building, the emphasis is on the people and not God.
If the RCIA program is run by someone or taught by others who will not give clear and direct answers from the Catechism, the Saints, the Fathers and the Doctors of the Church – get up and leave.
Most especially, get up and leave – regardless of who it is, ordained or lay person – if they start hemming and hawing about women clergy, the spirit of Vatican II, or “your conscience”.
Now, are you most likely gonna be inconvenienced with the decision to leave a parish? Yep. 99 times out of a hundred, yeah, you are. Because so many parishes do such a horrible job in making saints, you may have to look far and wide before you find one.
Once you find one, it may mean you have to drive an hour or so to Mass each way. Tough. Who cares? If you are able to do so, especially if you have children…you NEED to.
You can dedicate the day of the Lord to the Lord, instead of some meaningless soccer camp or cheerleading tournament. Leading cheers and kicking soccer balls won’t help your kids if they lose their souls. Nor will it help you who might very lose yours as well.
Sit down and explain to yourself, your spouse, and your kids or grandchildren, that you have just come to realize that you have not placed enough emphasis on the one thing that at the end of the day is the only thing that matters – Heaven.
Admit you have been negligent in your duties for exposing the souls of people you love to such dangers, but you are going to change things now. If you are unable or prevented from getting to a parish that is faithful to the proper transmission of the faith, then find the few faithful in your parish and form your own small community.
Go to each other’s homes and say the Rosary; get together for feast days; conduct your own CATHOLIC Bible studies; and so on.
There is a very old saying in the Church; in Latin it goes, “Lex orandi, lex credenda, lex vivendi.” Rough translation: how you pray is how you believe is how you live. When the central prayer of the Catholic faith – the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass – is so neglected and muddled that the reality of what it ACTUALLY is isn’t being transmitted, then to continue to sit there jeopardizes your soul and the souls of those around you.
This is why millions have left the Church – because it was just no big deal. If your children see people strolling up to Communion dressed like slobs – unconcerned and unaware of what they are about to do – and they see this week after week – then how on earth can you seriously expect that they will hold on to the faith?
You can say whatever you want, but their eyes tell them that this whole Catholic thing is not really that big a deal. The people in the Mass don’t really care; the priest doesn’t seem to care; so why should they?
Why did Obama win the Catholic vote? Not because of the Catholics who DON’T go to Mass, but because way too many who DO, are just going through the motions.
How you pray is how you believe…and how you believe is how you live.
We’ve attached a couple of links to various parishes around the country that we’d suggest you check out if you can. You will see people genuflecting; a priest who knows he’s not the star; profound respect for the moment when Our Blessed Lord becomes present in our midst; and you will be reminded that you are on this earth to carry your cross and get to Heaven.
Wanna know what to do to start to turn things around? Begin with giving God the fullness of worship that his Divine Majesty commands. Not for nothing did Our Blessed Lord say, “Here is the greatest commandment: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your mind and all your souls and all your strength.”
Links to faithful parishes: http://www.ecclesiadei.org/masses.cfm