Monday, February 4, 2013

Where is the Catholic Drumbeat?

The Vortex episode of 1/31/13 was entitled, “The Drum Beat”.  I’ve embedded it below, in case you missed it. As usual, Michael Voris made some good points.

For instance:

The Catholic Church is having such a difficult time these days fighting evil, error, heresy, dissent, and so forth because all of these are constantly pounding the drum: the steady never-ending bang bang bang of the drum.

It never stops. Gay marriage is good. Homosexual rights are human rights. Abortion is a fundamental right. Contraception reduces unwanted pregnancies. Euthanasia helps people die with dignity.

Those are the bangs pounded out on the moral drum. On the theological drum, the beat goes on. All religions are basically the same. There is no hell. Or IF there is, no one is really in it. Women should be priests. Non-Catholics can receive Holy Communion. Everyone goes to Heaven.

Bang Bang Bang! It never stops. NEVER! And this is the secret to evil’s success in our contemporary days.

A literal steady drum beat resounds throughout this episode, underscoring the point. It’s quite annoying, and it illustrates very aptly what has happened in our culture.

It never ends. It’s understandable that when anyone in America is exposed to the never ending banging of the drum that they might eventually come to believe the rhythm and the tune being banged out because they never hear anything else.

It reminds me of some of the scenes in Madeleine L’Engle’s book A Wrinkle in Time. In the latter chapters of the book, the protagonists are in the city on the distant planet Camazotz where evil is centered. In one scene, they are brought before a man with pulsating red eyes, and there’s a pulsating red light following the same rhythm. Everyone and everything on the planet is forced to accept and follow the same rhythm. In a later scene, they are brought before a pulsating, living brain, and the steady beat seeks to enter their very beings. They begin to shout out various things they’ve memorized, like the Declaration of Independence and the Periodic Table of Elements, which don’t have the same rhythm, in order to escape the clutches of evil.

And what have we got to combat that steady drum beat? We have our faith, the Catholic Church, the one true faith. But as Voris asks,

Where is the Catholic drumbeat – everyday? Does anyone really think – seriously – that the lukewarm or easily intimidated are going to be able to stand in the fierce winds that blow 24 hours a day 7 days a week… armed with a drab, meaningless 7 or 8 minute homily that says next to nothing just once a week?

Indeed! For many Catholics, their faith has been relegated to Sunday morning. They don’t attend daily Mass, or pray the Rosary daily, or follow any other private devotions that would establish a counter-beat to the evil one pulsating in our secular culture.

I recently began reading the autobiography of St. Therese, the Little Flower; I’ve never read it before. I was struck by the saint’s description of her childhood in the second chapter. Just look at how the Catholic drumbeat was present in the lives of her family:

When I woke there were my sisters ready to caress me, and I said my prayers kneeling between them. Then Pauline gave me my reading lesson, and I remember that "Heaven" was the first word I could read alone.  

…Every afternoon I went out for a walk with [Papa], and we paid a visit to the Blessed Sacrament in one or other of the Churches. It was in this way that I first saw the Chapel of the Carmel: "Look, little Queen," Papa said to me, "behind that big grating there are holy nuns who are always praying to Almighty God." Little did I think that nine years later I should be amongst them, that in this blessed Carmel I should receive so many graces.  (p. 25)

Their faith was important to them. It was the center of their lives. Everything revolved around parish life and private devotions. Instead of the children saying, “Do I have to…?” when it came to Mass and special celebrations, St. Therese and her sisters relished these events. It was a disappointment to not be allowed to attend:

It was the month of May, 1878. My sisters decided that I was too small to go to the May devotions every evening, so I stayed at home with the nurse and said my prayers with her before the little altar which I had arranged according to my own taste. Everything was small—candlesticks, vases, and the rest; two wax vestas were quite sufficient to light it up properly. (p. 26)

“May devotions every evening”?!? Wow! And since little Therese couldn’t attend, she made up her own! It was that important to her. And it would not have been that important to her if it were not important to her family…and to the community that expected such devotions to occur. It was a matter of fact, a matter of life.

If only we could all see Sunday as the saint did! And I don’t think you have to be a saint in the image of St. Therese to have this appreciation. You do, however, have to have a liturgy that commands respect for Our Lord, and that is something that is sadly lacking in our parishes today.  St. Therese says:

And if the great feasts came but seldom, each week brought one very dear to my heart, and that was Sunday. What a glorious day! The Feast of God! The day of rest! First of all the whole family went to High Mass… (p. 27)

It was something special, something to anticipate – not something to sigh over and “get it over with”.

Their home life, apart from parish events was strikingly Catholic, too. It seems to me that so very much of this has been lost!

I could tell you much about our winter evenings at home. After a game of draughts my sisters read aloud Dom Guéranger's Liturgical Year, and then a few pages of some other interesting and instructive book. While this was going on I established myself on Papa's knee, and when the reading was done he used to sing soothing snatches of melody in his beautiful voice, as if to lull me to sleep, and I would lay my head on his breast while he rocked me gently to and fro.
     Later on we went upstairs for night prayers, and there again my place was beside my beloved Father, and I had only to look at him to know how the Saints pray. Pauline put me to bed, and I invariably asked her: "Have I been good to-day? Is God pleased with me? Will the Angels watch over me?"   (p. 28)

Sigh.  Here are the saint’s memories of her sister Celine’s preparation for First Holy Communion:

I was only seven years old, and had not yet begun school at the Abbey. How sweet is the remembrance of her preparation! Every evening during its last weeks, my sisters talked to her of the great event. I listened, eager to prepare myself too, and my heart swelled with grief when I was told to go away because I was still too young. I thought that four years was not too long to spend in making ready to receive Our dear Lord. One evening I heard someone say to my happy little sister: "From the time of your First Communion you must begin an entirely new life." At once I made a resolution not to wait till the time of my First Communion, but to begin with Céline. (p. 33)

Do we tell our children things like that?! “From the time of your First Communion you must begin an entirely new life.” Do we even know that, as adults? Do we adequately instill a love of the Eucharist in our children? Or do we let our daughters dwell too much on the pretty dress they will wear for the occasion, and the party afterwards? I can’t speak for all contemporary Catholic families, but I know I have not seen a St. Therese-type preparation among those I have known.

I’m not saying these things don’t exist at all. I’m saying we need to see more of it. It is our weapon against the steady drum beat of the Culture of Death.

Here’s the Vortex episode; the script is available here.


  1. This is a stunning post, an indictment on our American society, and, especially, the RCatholic culture around us. I am so sad to read this because I remember a time that was similar to it (in the 50s/60s when I was growing up, pre-V2).

    For the past few days, my morning Bible study has been Ch1 of Ephesians. As I read about Paul's exhortations about being filled with Spirit to know the Father of Glory, etc, I wondered how many times such exhortations had been preached in our time; I wondered if people/Catholics even think about filling their life with Christ.

    A confession: I stopped going to church years ago because (in part) it seemed not just a waste of time, but a distraction from the important task of seeking God in his Word. I had to escape spiritual drowning in apathy and ambivalence. It give me hope to see a bit of remnant via this blog. I have not given up on God but I didn't see his presence in the churches I found myself in. I could not worship a golden calf while waiting for Moses to return.

    Our society is in a horrible state today. I fear it will take generations to restore it to pre-V2 levels. I do sense an opportunity, though, but at this point I will have to wait for the Spirit to guide me.

  2. fRed, I agree that the novus ordo Mass as it is typically celebrated (at least in my experience) can be quite a distraction from actually worshiping God. Nevertheless, it is the official public liturgy of the Church, and to refuse to fulfill your Sunday obligation puts your soul at risk.

    Jesus is present there; His Real Presence is in the tabernacle, and is confected by the priest, regardless of (most of) the liturgical anomalies. Gather up your strength and go, if for no other reason that to unite your suffering with that of Christ, who must endure bad liturgy all over the world, every day, practically every hour. Don't you think He would appreciate your support in that?

    I encourage you to return to the Church and avail yourself of the sacraments. That is where our strength lies. We cannot fight the good fight if we leave out the most important weapons.

  3. I would also encourage fRED to seek out a local traditional chapel or mass center of the SSPX or FSSP. Both are very traditional in orientation and contrary to rumor you can go to the SSPX to fulfill your Sunday obligation.

  4. If the FSSP or the SSPX aren't nearby to you, fRED, go to the most reverential Novus Ordo you can find, sit near the front (to help you focus on the altar, not the people around you), and most importantly, pray the Mass from your 1962 Missal as best you can. You won't really be able to keep "in step" with what's going on at the altar since the Novus Ordo is so different and zips by speedily while you might still be way back at the Kyrie while the Priest is WAY ahead, but otherwise I find it very helpful. I find it the best way for me in order to receive my Lord and assist the Priest at the Holy Sacrifice, even if the Priest and the Mass is focused on the Mass being a meal get-together around the 'table'.

    Pray for assistance from Our Lady and all the Saints and Angels present in the Church.


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