Monday, August 19, 2013

Cracker Box Ecclesiology

The other day, my gaze fell on the back of a box of crackers sitting on my kitchen counter. I read it:

It struck me that this is the view many people hold as to what the Church should be today. Just delete "Townhouse" and insert "Catholic Church"; and of course "crackers" can describe many Catholics' view of the Eucharist, which tends not to include the Real Presence!

I had also just read a couple of articles at Munabor’s Blog, and the pieces fell into place. (BTW…whenever you’re in the mood to be reminded that the emperor has no clothes, just visit Mundabor.) I found a couple of articles in which Mundabor discussed current concepts of “evangelization”.  

For instance, in this post from June 19, he quotes Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council of Inter-religious Dialogue:

It's not really a viable option...
“In this pluralistic situation, we have no other option than consciously cultivating friendly relationships with all of them based on mutual respect and understanding that eventually could lead to mutual collaboration for the common good, for peace and harmony towards the development of the society. This is all what interreligious dialogue is about: Being rooted in our own faith, cultivating, despite differences, harmonious relationships among believers of diverse religions and collaborating with them for the good of humanity with shared values and convictions.”

Ah, yes, says Mundabor; we all know that Jesus said:

“Go ye therefore, and dialogue with all nations, making friends among them and collaborating with them in the name of humanity”.

Right? Well, no, those are not exactly the words Our Lord used…

As Mundabor notes in his post, the Cardinal seems to be saying that we just need to all be friends, and focus on “collaboration” and “shared values and convictions”. Let’s not push Catholicism! And strangely enough, this thought was expressed by our Holy Father recently, when he said:

“Do you need to convince the other to become Catholic? No, no, no! Go out and meet him, he is your brother. This is enough. Go out and help him and Jesus will do the rest”.

Huh?! I wonder what the Christians in Egypt think about that idea. (See Mundabor for further comments on the Pope’s remarks; it’s a post worth reading.)

Following right in step with the dumbed-down version of Catholic evangelization (which seems to be pretty much non-existent these days), there is an article from Catholic Culture by Phil Lawler entitled “Does Your Parish Really Welcome Converts?”  Lawler says:

The first question, of course, is whether you are ever approached by friends and acquaintances who are interested in Catholicism. If you aren’t, maybe you’re hiding our lamp under a bushel basket.

Really? I’ve never been approached, except when I was heading up the RCIA program at my parish. I have not met too many people who are actually interested in becoming Catholic. When I did meet one who was, I shared the faith with him as completely as I could, but finally told him not to become Catholic. Why? Because he wasn’t “buying” the whole package, including the “core concepts” of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, and Mary’s perpetual virginity.

Lawler then asks another question: “How do you respond to someone who shows an interest in entering the Church?” Personally, I prefer the phrase “received into the Church”, which puts a different spin on it, I think. But then, it seems many don’t care for that spin. They want people to come into the Church (or remain in it) on their own terms. Well…I don’t think it really works that way.

He gives three examples of “how we respond to people at a first meeting” (read the article for all the details), and sums it up by saying that

…[a] warm reception should be waiting for anyone who expresses an interest in the Catholic Church. Everyone is welcome; there is no limit to the number of converts the Church can accept. The screening process is minimal; the only “qualification” is sincere faith.  

Sincere? Maybe.
Sincerely wrong? Absolutely.
Yes…and no. I don’t mean to completely discount everything Lawler has to say. But still…how do you define “sincere faith”? My friend had sincere faith, but he was sincerely wrong in what he chose to believe or not to believe. Converts are required to profess their belief in stronger terms than most cradle Catholics these days are willing to use: “I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church teaches, believes and proclaims to be revealed by God”. Converts are required to make this statement when they are received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. Frankly, I know way too many Catholics who would not make that same profession, if they were being honest about it.

Along those lines, I think about the reports of the “conversions stories” that allegedly come out of World Youth Day. Looking at much of the hoopla, liturgical abuses, and generally frivolous atmosphere, I have to wonder exactly what they are converting to.  Just sayin’.

What’s lacking in all of this is a sense of the inevitability of death, the existence of Hell, and the strikingly unpopular notion of “the one True Faith”. If we avoid telling people that the Catholic Church is the only sure path to salvation, we have left out a very important piece of information! But if we do tell them the truth about our faith, with all the doctrine that is so unpopular these days…well, who would join a Church with such stringent requirements!?!  Obligatory Sunday Mass? Confession – to a priest?! No abortion ever, not even for the “life of the mother” or in cases of incest? No artificial contraception???!!!! Puh-lease.

I guess that’s why we have Catholic-lite now. Make everyone feel good, and get those who are gullible enough to become Catholic. Later, spring the hard teachings of the Church on them. If they don’t agree, don’t worry. They’ll be in the same boat as at least 80% of their fellow parishioners. But at least they’ll be Catholic!

Yeah. Right. Back to my cracker box: "The Catholic Church. Where good times reside."


  1. Dr. Jay your post this morning is right on the mark. I next read a piece in the Catholic Register.
    What is your take on it? I have very mixed opinions about what they are doing.


  2. Yep that is what we have these days Catholic-lite!
    Let's not preach the TRUTH , just give those catholics in the pews what they want to hear ...
    Most of my life I have been caught up in the picking and choosing of what I wanted ...
    These days are totally for GOD ALONE since my complete tune away from my way and now HIS WAY!
    GOD is good : let us pray daily for the Holy Catholic Church and Her return to Tradition and the Restoration of the TLM .
    Let us also pray for the conversion of sinners:
    There is no salvation outside the Catholic Church ...that is the TRUTH and a hard one to grasp and embrace .
    The Catholic Church is in a terrible CRISIS but GOD will win in the end ...we have HIS WORD on all this folks !

  3. Great post! Someone turned me on to Mundabor's blog some time ago; might have even been you, Jay. I must say, I can't let a day go by without a Mundabor fix :) Now there's a man with a great wit, plain speaking, no-holds-barred, intelligent blog. Love that guy.

    Phil Lawler I avoid anymore, as I do his Ignatius Press.

    Thanks for the good read.


  4. Apostasy will begin at the top...chilling...

    Pray for the Holy Father. He needs it. The Pope and a Prince of the Church don't believe that the whole world must be Catholic to be saved? Kyrie Eleison. The Church MUST be purified and I will continue to say it.

    Catholic-lite is right on the mark! It is beyond me why Catholics can't just accept what the Church teaches and get their lazy selves out of the bed on sundays. But WAIT! What if they miss their favorite tv show, which is most likely garbage? God CAN'T get in the way of that, can he? Is it really that hard to worship your God? Hmm.. Can't we just humble ourselves and submit to Christ?? For submitting to the Church is submitting to Christ. Period.

    God bless! And great post, Dr. Boyd!


  5. I was with you until you decide to criticize Phil Lawler. Did you read his article or just skim it? Phil Lawler is hardly Catholic-lite. I don't understand what your problem is with what he wrote. You are picking on his choice of words but it appears to me that you had already decided you would be against whatever he said. Phil Lawler has been in the trenches now for about 35 years. He's not the enemy except maybe to a few narrow minded Trad's who don't like anyone.

  6. Sue A - really?! I didn't call Lawler himself "Catholi Lite"; that was a reference to the general state of affairs we find ourselves in. I specifically said I didn't want to discount everything Lawler had to say, and I think I explained my objection to the part I quoted about the "only qualification" being "sincere faith". The choice of words is important, and yes, I took issue with the words he used there. In this day and age, we need to be a lot more explicit about "sincere faith"; I know of a parish in Portland, OR where many seem to have the "sincere" belief that homosexual behavior is morally acceptable; they are sincerely wrong. That's just one example.

  7. Here's a great counter to the Coexist t-shirt:

    He's Protestant, but he's definitely on the right track (& I think I shall buy the bumper sticker!) Jesus called us to convert the world, not to placate it!
    Coexisting especially doesn't work when at least 2 of the belief systems depicted want to destroy several of the others.

  8. Yes Jay,
    The inference is there which is why Elizabeth (above)took the opportunity to state that she avoids Phil Lawler.(I'm not exactly sure why) She took what you said the way I did.
    In the Archdiocese of Boston, they are "responding" to the call for the "new evangelization" by assembling "evangelization teams" and having meetings and all the usual bureaucratic silliness. I am certain that that is his reference point. All he is saying is that we don't need an evangelization team. We should be living differently. John 13:35 says, "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another."

    Just because people who are out to destroy the Church misuse the work "sincere" doesn't mean he has to clarify what he is saying every time he uses the word. (an editor wouldn't go off topic like that.) Anyone who reads a couple of articles on Catholic Culture by Phil Lawler has to know that he is unequivocal in his orthodoxy not to mention one of the most outspoken critics of the Bishops with regard to the cover up of the Scandal.
    Catholic Culture's thrust is different than say, the Church Militant. That doesn't mean that they are all against each other does it?

  9. Well...Catholic Culture is not exactly a CMTV fan...! But that isn't what I was saying, and it's not at issue in this post.

    I've read plenty of articles on Catholic Culture; in fact, one of my articles appears there. Again, my point was not about Lawler or Catholic Culture. It was about the "Catholic-lite" mentality we see in much of the Church today. Lawler's article was a useful example. I make no judgements about his orthodoxy, Elizabeth's comment notwithstanding. I'm sure she had her opinion in place before reading my post!


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