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  • Tim Pawlenty’s Ex-Catholic Piety

    by Jeremy Lott

    Tim Pawlenty had a bad week on the campaign trail, but I can’t write him out of the running for the GOP presidential nomination just yet, for one simple reason: Patrick Hynes.

    Hynes is a friend and former colleague and a major New Hampshire-based political consultant to the Pawlenty campaign who has a very good idea of how to win where it counts, against long odds. Last time around, Hynes signed up for the no-hope candidacy of an also-ran who had fundraising problems and was tanking in the early polls. That candidate’s name was John McCain. In 2007, I laughed at Hynes’s folly. He has tried not to be too obnoxious about it.

    If Hynes’s current client, the former two-term Minnesota governor, does manage to get some traction, one sentence from his campaign biography has the potential to create quite the tempest in a tea party. Pawlenty begins chapter eight of Courage to Stand with a confession: “I never expected or planned to leave the Catholic church.”

    The now-Protestant Pawlenty explains that, as a kid, he “attended Mass nearly every Sunday,” and not only out of familial obligation. “I took my faith seriously. I went through my first Communion, catechism, and confirmation.”

    After Pawlenty’s mother died of ovarian cancer when he was 16, he might have held that against the Almighty. Instead, he writes that “my faith only deepened, and my belief in the existence of a loving God carried on into college and law school.”

    So what happened? Pawlenty fell in love with a Protestant (though not anti-Catholic) girl named Mary Anderson. While they were courting, “Mary attended church with me, and I attended church with her and as I fell in love with Mary, I also found myself increasingly drawn to her church, Wooddale Church.”

    Pawlenty stresses the fact that Wooddale is an “interdenominational” (he probably means “nondenominational”) megachurch now, but it has its roots in the Swedish Baptists of the Baptist General Conference. Pawlenty says his eventual “decision to join Wooddale was not about rejecting Catholicism,” but in part, “to merge my faith and church life with Mary’s.”

    That explanation will seem to some Catholic critics as both too pat and too political. “Leaving” and “rejecting” may be two different things, but they are at least related. Furthermore, Pawlenty just happens to have switched his church affiliation to one that syncs up more closely with the natural base of the GOP’s primary electorate.

    While that may sound suspicious, it shouldn’t. Before I get to why, some authorial disclosure is probably best: Tim Pawlenty and your humble scribe have traveled in exact opposite religious arcs. He grew up Catholic and is now effectively a Baptist. I was raised the son of a minister who was educated at the Baptist General Conference’s Minnesota-based Bethel Seminary and am now Catholic.

    To these adult-conversion trained ears, Pawlenty’s clipped description of his experience sounds genuine — even guileless. This wasn’t merely a conversion to satisfy the missus; he saw something in his wife-to-be’s religious experience that he lacked.

    Mary, writes Pawlenty, “was a student of the Bible. I thought it was so amazing that she could recall so many passages so well and could apply them readily to life’s circumstances.” He was “intrigued” by her ability to “say ‘Just a minute’ while flipping through her Bible. Moments later she’d say, ‘Here’s a passage that might be instructive’ and put the Bible in my hand.” Mary’s example demonstrated to him for the first time “the dynamic relevance of Scripture to my life,” and he wanted more of it. And so, without rancor or protest, Pawlenty left the Catholic Church and became a member of Wooddale.

     

    One does not have to agree with Pawlenty’s decision to understand the motivation behind it. In a sense, it’s a back-handed affirmation of an important truth the Catholic Church bids us believe. According to the Catechism, Scripture and Tradition form a “single deposit of faith.” So why are so few lay Catholics serious students of Scripture? Why is it that, if you want to find Catholics who know Malachi from Maccabees, the best bet is to look either for theologians or former Protestant converts?

    Unlike Pawlenty, I grew up knowing the Bible was something more than just the readings at weekly Mass. It was read at bedtime, given at graduations, memorized for Wednesday Awana meetings, and thumbed through during thousands of very long sermons. I even accidentally ended up with a degree in biblical studies. My journey to Catholicism began when I realized Tradition is terribly important as well.

    The Catholic Church does a good job communicating the importance of Tradition, but that hasn’t always been the case with Scripture. Many pious and intelligent people are attracted to a culture of serious scriptural study, and as long as that is thought of as a Protestant thing, it’s going to create an evangelistic difficulty for the Church. We might as well call it the Pawlenty Problem.

    The views expressed by the authors and editorial staff are not necessarily the views of
    Sophia Institute, Holy Spirit College, or the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts.

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    • Ann

      I agree that a good Catholic Bible study is a wonderful thing and can be very fruitful spiritually, however, it would seem that Pawlenty’s faith formation was lacking in terms of the Catechism and Tradition to have left the Church. I have attended very good Catholic Bible studies in the past and they were invaluable in my spiritual growth. I do not have access to one at the moment but I do have access to daily Mass, Scripture, prayer and various devotions. I lack nothing for spiritual growth and sustenance as long as I do something. To leave the Church, and live without the Mass and the Eucharist means that he never understood them in the first place. There was lot more missing from his faith formation/spiritual life than a bible study. It is a rejection but only God knows to what extent invincible ignorance played a role and to what extent Pawlenty is himself at fault. God bless.

      • monica

        “To leave the Church, and live without the Mass and the Eucharist means that he never understood them in the first place. There was lot more missing from his faith formation/spiritual life than a bible study.”

        yes. very sad and very common yes.

    • Ellen

      I’ve used any number of Bible study guides and found them very valuable and enlightening. But to give up the Eucharist…..no way in the universe.

    • Warren Murray

      Of course, in leaving the Catholic Church one leaves the sacraments, which is a very serious matter.

      I have also found that Protestants have a great interest in the Old Testament, the Epistles (esp. of Paul) and the Book of Revelation, and somewhat less for the Gospels. This seems to me to be significant difference from Catholics.

    • Steve N.

      My own intreptation is that he joined, not the Wooddale Church, which is truly and particularly THE Church of Wooddale, nondenomiational will still have a defination -however particular – but The Church of Mary belief. Personal Biblical belief which trandsends any and all Churches without the particularities of Jesus.

      • Cord Hamrick

        Steve:

        What does your comment mean? Really: I don’t understand what you said.

        Are you saying he didn’t adopt so much the beliefs of the church his wife attended, as his wife’s beliefs?

        If that’s what you meant, then…why do you think there’s a difference between his wife’s beliefs and the beliefs of the church she attends? I don’t see any sign in the article that she disagrees with anything taught there.

        Also, what do you mean when you say “without the particularities of Jesus?” Do you mean that his wife’s beliefs are general enough that, by avoiding saying anything very particular or divisive about Jesus, they manage to be equally welcome in any church?

    • El Otro Pelón

      So you can absolve people falling into heresy as long as they are on the right side of the partisan divide, but attack other Catholics who are in apparent good standing with the hierarchy because you don’t agree with them on one or two issues?

      This site is becoming more and more of a hack job by the week.

      • Cord Hamrick

        El Otro Pelón:

        Huh?

        I’m trying to discern who, being in apparent good standing with the hierarchy, you believe has been attacked here.

        You may have a valid criticism; I just don’t know because you didn’t cite an example. Will you please clarify?

    • nan

      To leave the Catholic Church is never to have known it all–this has nothing to do with “bible study” but rather pride and a refusal to learn our Faith which of course includes Scripture which was given to all by the Church. It comes down to searching for Truth or taking a convenient way to incorporate some aspects of Christianity into our cultural environment.

      • Cord Hamrick

        Nan, if you left the church, it would perhaps be out of pride or refusal to learn the Faith, which is why you can only imagine those as motivation for doing such a thing.

        But I do encounter Catholics sometimes who never got the message that personal, individual Scripture study was a normal practice (and significant knowledge of Scripture, a necessary tool) for one’s daily practice of the Catholic faith.

        Blame the parents; blame the catechists; blame the pastor’s homilies; and blame the person. I think a lot of things have to go wrong for it to happen.

        But it’s sad and wrong how often all four items go wrong, resulting in this very pattern. It is not rare. It is very nearly normal. Prior to investigating the Catholic Church on my own time, I don’t think I ever met a Catholic who knew why they were Catholic and planned to stay Catholic. But I met a dozen or so ex-Catholics, split half-and-half between those who were no longer Christian, and those who claimed gratefully to have finally come to know Jesus through an evangelical ministry.

        Surely these folk aren’t all prideful?

        They may have been ignorant of Catholicism, sure. But then, wasn’t somebody supposed to have taught them? And shouldn’t they have grown up in the midst of so many well-informed Catholic peers that, if they felt themselves falling behind their classmates in knowledge of their faith, they would feel awkward and want to catch up?

        Why doesn’t it happen that way?

        • Ann

          All these things go wrong because of pride and refusal to learn the faith. Yes, we are all prideful it is just the degree to which we are prideful and how we handle it. Some take their pride and go elsewhere, others recognize pride for what it is and fall to their knees, some are in between. The in betweeners are cafeteria Catholics. They know better than the Magisterium and the Protestants. Lots of pride there. If you look at the reasons Catholics (cafeteria or ex) have for rejecting a teaching of the Church, those reasons will almost certainly lead you back to pride as the starting place for the rejection They know better than God and the Church he founded and so follow their own concience (pride=I know better than you). One example-artificial contraception. Those who use it justify it that they know what is best for them rather than following Church teaching and trusting God’s plan for them. They take the power of pro creation out of God’s hands and into their own. What is that but pride. If you really look at what pride is and what it does to us, you will see that rejecting the Church, Church teaching is all about pride.
          Side note-has anyone ever met a cafeteria Catholic or ex Catholic who doesn’t use artificial birth control?. Think about it-that one issue is the beginning of the rejection for most.

    • Howard

      So Pawlenty is not insincere, he’s just either ignorant (of how Biblically-grounded the doctrines and practices of the Catholic Church are) or weak. Thanks for pointing out his ignorance and/or weakness; I’ll remember them if he appears as a ballot choice.

      As for your friend Haynes, it’s always possible that he did his job superbly, but McCain was too busy positioning himself as a good loser to Obama to be much of a threat to win, and the overall result is not one worth bragging about.

    • Mary Parks

      Baloney. The Church’s life and Liturgy is filled with more Scripture in a week than a Protestant Church uses in a year. Scripture belongs to the Church and she uses it that way. The kind of “knowing” of Scripture that Protestants have is a familiarity with books and numbers, not content. Moreover, Catholic parishes abound with Scripture studies.

    • Johnnyjoe

      I think Mr. Pawlenty’s story is so common that we Catholics – particularly we cradle Catholics – should could consider it an example of a universal Truth.

      You can bring a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.

      Being IN the Church, and being OF the Church are often to different things. ALL adults must embrace Jesus Christ “with all their mind, with all their heart, and with all their soul”. The Gifts of the Church – the Sacraments, and the Deposit of the Faith – are nothing if they are not deeply received and animated with a FAITH connected intimately with Jesus Christ.

      Many of us have found that “connection” through the Sacrament of Matrimony, and at a certain level, Pawlenty is no different. Indeed, it is Pawlenty’s wandering that is the real focus and purpose of the Second Vatican Council, for it’s call to evangelization is focused both WITHIN and without the Church.

      I would rather have a “protestant” and convicted believer in Jesus Christ over a lukewarm, bump-along catholic any day….

    • Diane Peske

      “Why is it that, if you want to find Catholics who know Malachi from Maccabees, the best bet is to look either for theologians or former Protestant converts?”…I am a Catholic revert…all sacraments through Confirmation in high school…left Catholicism in college and spent 35 years in Protestant ministry…returned to my true home 2 years ago…am now a Catholic catechist alongside my Catholic convert husband. I can predict with near 100% certainty if I meet a Catholic who knows Scripture as well as I do – they were all Evangelicals at some point in their past. Thank God our largest-parish-in-San Diego pastor ‘gets’ the need to energize our faith, and especially our youth – with vibrant, relevant, understandable Catholic Bible Study programs. The challenge of the Protestant mega-church to us Catholics should inspire us, not discourage us. We have the fullness of the Gospel in ways non-Traditional, non-liturgical Christians don’t even (yet, Lord willing) fathom. Last week a Protestant Four-Square friend told me she had ‘problems with all our rituals.’ I smiled and told her: “every family has rituals. Don’t you have birthday and anniversary rituals? Rituals in and of themselves are universal.” To her credit – she humbly replied: “wow – that’s a good answer! I hadn’t thought about it that way.” My prayer is that enthusiastic, well-trained – Scripture-knowledgeable Catholics continue to LIVE their faith authentically and let that light draw people towards the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Communion so eagerly waiting for the reality of Jesus’ prayer in John 17.

    • RG

      I’m about the same age as Mr. Pawlenty. While growing up Catholic I was taught that other denominations were Christians also and we should not put them down. I think it was some kind of ecumenism thing but I was too young to understand. I went to college with the idea that different denominations were like people choosing to live in different states, we were still all Americans. I married a baptist woman. Still married, by the way. She didn’t understand the Catholic church and wanted to attend a baptist church. In my faulty understanding of the Church it didn’t seem to matter where we worshiped, just who we worshiped. Twenty years later I found my way back to the Catholic church. My wife followed, of her own free will, a year later through the RCIA. That was 11 years ago. I can’t judge all who leave because I feel many of us did not understand exactly what we were leaving.

      • Don L

        Discerning and admonition are a Catholics responsibility. Ignoring that for fear of putting someone down is a serious miscontruction of our responsibility.
        Though I believe our single biggest problem to be the schism withing the Church itself -the changing of it’s given mission from the salvation of souls to that of a social justice equivelant to that of the Godless left.

        Swiss cheese Catholicism is but a whole other issue.

    • Mike in KC, MO

      “That explanation will seem to some Catholic critics as both too pat and too political. ‘Leaving’ and ‘rejecting’ may be two different things”
      - If I were to, say, divorce my wife and go off with another woman, but I stressed that I was simply ‘leaving’ not ‘rejecting’ her, would you buy that? Or would you declare me to be full of male bovine excrement?

      Here’s the thing, leaving the Church IS the same as rejecting it in this case. By joining a Baptist church, he is declaring that he either no longer believes that the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ in which case he is rejecting a core doctrine of the Faith, which we are commanded to eat, OR he is declaring that, while he may still believe that it is, he no longer cares enough to bother receiving It.

      To be honest, I’m not sure which one is worse.

      “He was “intrigued” by her ability to “say ‘Just a minute’ while flipping through her Bible. Moments later she’d say, ‘Here’s a passage that might be instructive’ and put the Bible in my hand.””
      - He was an adult man. The fact that he took no interest in his Catholic Faith to learn Scripture is no one’s fault but his own. If I as an adult don’t take the effort to learn something that is open, free and available with so many resources, how can it be anyone’s fault but mine?

      “Pawlenty explains that, as a kid, he “attended Mass nearly every Sunday,” and not only out of familial obligation. “I took my faith seriously. I went through my first Communion, catechism, and confirmation.””
      - OK, stuff like this makes my BS alarm go off every time. This is a version of the famous ‘I was/am a really devout Catholic… BUT’ phrase. When someone says that phrase or something like it, you can almost guarantee that what they just said and are about to say is total hogwash. JUST LOOK AT HOW HE SAYS WHAT HE SAYS! Do ANY of you know a SINGLE Catholic that knows his/her faith that talks like that?

      Sorry, I’ve read so many versions of this story about so many different people I’ve lost count. It’s the same old story every time. It is always a complete cop out.

    • digdigby

      One word. Bibliolatry. Full of chapter and verse and still full of oneself. Upbeat, emotionally gratifying and wonderfully seductive: modern ‘Glass Cathedral Protestantism’. And like the Glass Cathedral, it is without the Sacraments and bankrupt.

    • Kate

      This article helps my voting. Mr. Pawlenty is very sincere, and profoundly uneducated, poor man. That lack of adult knowledge informs his potential decisions for the nation on all levels.

      At 16 I had Buddhist, Lutheran, Anglican, Jewish, Shintoist, and Muslim friends. Most of the adults in my Irish-American family, even those who attended Mass, were atheists or agnostics. My aunts described the Eucharist as “a piece of bread.” Although I attended about 6 years of Catholic school, the instruction was primarily in academics (excellent!) and good citizenship (fierce!). Warmly invited to join my friends’ religions, I decided to study Catholicism first. At 62 I still haven’t finished!

      I have developed a greater love of and respect for all other religions (and can still keep a kosher kitchen!), but there’s only one with the whole truth. It’s the only one with the sacraments. How terribly sad that Mr. Pawlenty has given them up for a non-denominational local church with only one part of our great spiritual inheritance! I hope he realizes he can return!

    • sam

      For me it is surprising to learn of TP being a baptized Catholic who left the Church. Sarah Palin is also one. And I don’t know how many others there are who are in the public realm. It demonstrates to me as it does to other commenters a lack of knowledge of the faith, or something they are unwilling to disclose.

      As a 6 wk old baptized Catholic (my Mom nearly died giving birth so the delay), 1st Communionant @ 7, Confirmation @ 13, attendee always Catholic schools, ev taught Catholic school for 3 yrs., exceedingly active w/in the Church community, choir, parish functions, daily Communicant until age 25; began a struggle w/my faith @ 21, I always find these stories of those who left the Church and those who returned, quite compelling. For I too stumbled on my Catholic way, grievously, which continued thereafter for 20 yrs. But I never left the Church; that is, I never went to another faith, because I knew w/o a doubt that the Catholic Church was the only true Church because we had the Real Presence which none other possesses. I also knew I believed what the Church teaches. So I could never bring myself to accept any other teaching. I continued belief in the Catholic faith, I simply made the decision to do my own thing. Which means that I sinned grievously against the Lord through my own fault. So what I find compelling w/many, if not most, of these stories is that there is an element of truth which is not addressed. That is, that one gives up the practice of one’s Catholic faith through one’s own fault – i.e, sin. Some attempt to address this lack by joining some other faith belief. But isn’t it basically the same thing. Wanting to do one’s own thing – sin. Missing practicing the faith every day of my life during this period, I realized that i was essentially & completed Catholic, which nothing could change, not even my sinfulness. For the last 30+ yrs I have been in full and joyful concert w/the Church. Not a revert, because I never actually sought or believed any other teaching but that of the Catholic Church. But a sinner who left doing “it my way” because she knew His Way, the way of the Catholic Church, was truly more in every way than anything else could ever be.

      • http://twitter/tomskalman Tom Skalman

        Good stuff, Sam.
        I do, however, believe that Pawlenty is like too many Catholics that simply don’t know the faith. You say you KNEW it and never left it. He left it. Conclusion: You knew/know the Catholic faith much more deeply than he ever did.

    • Cord Hamrick

      I think part of the problem with Scripture-ignorant Catholics is a failure of homiletics, especially in comparison to the high standards for Scripture use and skill in evangelical sermons.

      Before someone says, “Protestants make the sermon the most important thing in their services because they don’t have the Eucharist,” let me stipulate: The Eucharist should always, of course, have pride-of-place in worship. How could it be otherwise? When Christ Himself feeds us with the medicine of immortality, it is not only a big deal; it is the biggest deal that will happen on this earth prior to His second advent!

      But I think Catholics have sometimes gone overboard in playing down the importance of the homily for the edification of the faithful. One can do a good job in that department, can’t one, without thereby undermining the importance of the Eucharist?

      Indeed, mustn’t we have excellent homilies? Isn’t excellence in worship, provided it’s not pursued out of vainglory, our duty to God? Why else do we use gold and silver for the chalice and the paten, if not because our intent is to offer to God our very best?

      The homilies ought to be substantive, informative, and scripture-rich: For any given point the pastor may make, if there is a choice between merely saying it, and backing it up with a citation from Scripture, he ought to do the latter.

      This habit of “quoting chapter and verse” to make a point is part of why evangelicals don’t walk through their faith life with an attitude of, “Oh, sure, of course the Bible matters. I’m not sure what’s in there or why it matters, mind you, but I’m sure it’s important for some reason or other.”

      Regarding public-speaking skill: My impression is that the homiletic skills displayed in the average Catholic liturgy are about 2/3rds the quality of those in the average evangelical service. (My own pastor is happily an exception; he’s skillful enough to hold his own with evangelical pastors. But I’ve heard enough other priests to know he’s the exception, not the rule.)

      Why is this? Can’t our seminaries produce better?

      Earlier commenters noted that the Mass is nearly all Scripture. Fair enough, I grant that. But yank ten random parishoners out of the pew, and ask each of them ten questions in which you pick at random a phrase from the liturgy and ask, “Are these words found somewhere in the Bible, and if so, where?”

      How well do you think they’ll do? As well as ten randomly picked Baptists or Presbyterians?

      Some will object that when evangelical pastors quote Scripture in their sermons, they often mis-use it or make theologically incorrect points. True enough: Quoting ability is no guarantee of orthodoxy. But assuming the point being made is orthodox, is it better to quote, or not to quote? And certainly not referencing Scripture is no protection against heterodoxy!

      • Ann

        I don’t believe that homilies make that much difference if you understand what the Eucharist is. If you put the Eucharist first, always first, worship first which means God is THE focus of the Mass not ME or what I am learning, then the homily matters very little. A great one is good to hear but I can live with not so great as long as we have the Eucharist. Now what does make a BIG difference is how well the priest says Mass. Is he reverent and holy? Is attention paid to every detail of the liturgy-music, posture, all the bells and whisltes? I have that at our parish and you KNOW by how Father says Mass that this is WORSHIP and not anything else.

        • Cord Hamrick

          Ann:

          Of course I agree with you that how the priest says Mass is extremely important.

          But I think you underestimate the importance of the homily. At what other time does the pastor have the attention of the vast majority of his flock, and the opportunity to deliver a message exhorting them to orthodoxy and holiness?

          Do they all attend parish Bible Studies? Do they all come to reconciliation as often as they ought? Do they all make appointments with him during the week to ask questions about the faith and apply the answers to their lives?

          I doubt that they do any of these things in such numbers as they attend Mass. For ten or fifteen minutes, here they are, obligated to listen to the prophetic voice of the Church. Does the Church have nothing to say to them? Are they so advanced in holiness and so knowledgeable in doctrine and so skillful in evangelism and apologetics as all that? Are they so well formed in their faith that they never need reminding of the value of suffering, of the importance of prayer?

          Such reminders and opportunities for learning are of course available to the lay Catholic outside the Mass if he goes looking for them. But could he not benefit from being encouraged to do so?

          How individualistic of us (in the negative sense), if we should say, “Alright, you’re baptized and you’re confirmed, and now we, your brothers and sisters in Christ, have done our bit; you’re on your own from here on in; buy some books and figure the rest out yourself!”

          If we do not encourage the hearers towards spiritual growth in the homilies, are we not much like a man who says, “Go, clothe yourself, feed yourself, I wish you well,” but does nothing to assist in these endeavors?

          I suppose the question is: Are Catholics as catechized and well-formed and fervent and orthodox as they ought to be? If not, could improvements in the area of teaching and exhorting them help? If so, isn’t the homily the most obvious place to do some extra exhorting and teaching? And if so, why are Catholics culturally so quick to treat the homily as an afterthought instead of an opportunity not to be missed?

          I suspect it may be because they think of good homilies as a protestant thing, and say, “If the protestants have good sermons; well, we aren’t protestant, so let’s be proud of having boring and bad ones.”

          How different from the history of the Church prior to the 16th century schism! Could John Chrysostom have ever earned his nickname had his homilies been five minutes of wishy-washy pablum delivered in soft monotone? And how unnecessary! Fulton Sheen was an excellent orator in the style of his day: Was he any less Catholic for it?

          And Pope Benedict XVI has called for improved training for future preachers. Why should he do so if homilies aren’t that important? Is a sign that he has fallen prey to a protestant mindset? Is the pope Catholic?

          How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?…As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

          The author of those words preached some stemwinders himself. I wonder what he’d say about a Catholic culture which thought the preaching of the gospel “matters little.” Could such a culture ever be so glad of hearing the good news as to spontaneously praise the feet of the men who brought it to them?

          Something is disconnected, here!

          I suppose in the end I am merely saying this: I wish that weekly (at least), every parishoner was so encouraged to live his faith, and so edified in how to do so, that in addition to giving thanks for the gift of Christ’s body and blood received in his body, he also (secondarily, for everything is secondary to the Eucharist) gave thanks for the Word of God newly comprehended and freshly recalled in his mind. I wish that every parishoner was so excited about every fresh insight and exhortation that he went away saying with David, “The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.”

          What a shame that so many instead say, “Yawn. I hope he’ll quit talking soon, so we can get the Eucharist and go home. It’s not as if he has much to say anyway.”

          The homily is in the liturgy for a reason. It is not intended to be filler. Its excellence ought to be on par with the excellent craftsmanship of the vestments and the altar and the chalice and the paten. It is less important than the Eucharist itself, granted; everything is!

          But it is not at all unimportant. It matters. And not only a little.

          • Ann

            Cord, back to your original point: “I think part of the problem with Scripture-ignorant Catholics is a failure of homiletics, especially in comparison to the high standards for Scripture use and skill in evangelical sermons.” Priests who are orthodox due a very credible job with their homilies in regards to scripture. An orthodox priest basis his homily on the readings for the day not his own whims or fancies. I think blaming the priest or his homily is too simplistic. We get into trouble with priests with heterodox beliefs who get up there and preach on whatever their fancy is for the day. Like everything else, to improve homilies we have to get rid of heterodox priests. And yes our seminaries are capable of turning out better public speakers but not necessarily through “training” them in those skills but by turning our orthodox holy priests who use God’s gifts wisely and well. No amount of training in public speaking will produce a good homily if the theology is bad. It would be wonderful if all our priests could preach like Archbishop Fulton Sheen or St. John Chrsystom but that is unlikely. Some priests have other gifts. There are so many avenues for Catholics to become better educated. We are getting to the point where we have to stop blaming the priests and bad CCD programs for our ignorance. Ignorant Catholics are ignorant by and large because they choose to be out of pride and stubbornness. Wouldn’t want to learn something that might require them to change in any way? Ignorant Catholics know that if they learn something they will have to acknowledge their sinfullness and make changes. So they choose to not go there. BTW, I have personally experienced great homilies of the orthodox kind but parishioners didn’t want it as it was too “conservative”.

        • http://twitter/tomskalman Tom Skalman

          That’s it. If you are ignorant of WHAT and WHO and HOW regarding the Eucharist, you don’t KNOW nor HAVE the Faith.

        • Micha Elyi

          “I don’t believe that homilies make that much difference if you understand what the Eucharist is.”

          Two days after you wrote that, Ann, we celebrated the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Did the homily you heard at Mass that Sunday help anyone understand what the Eucharist is? Help Catholic Christians answer those “it’s just a piece of bread” Protestants? Not at the parish where I attended Mass. Nor at the parish back home, from what my family tells me.

          Please don’t dismiss the value of good homilies.

    • Linus

      I’ll answer your question. The Catholic Church is primarily guided by Tradition and the Magisterium. It is these two elements, under the guidence of the Holy Spirit, which define what Catholics believe. But of course the Church has great respect for the Word of God in the scripture- as it is interpreted by the Church. This last point is critical and explains why Catholics in general don’t spend a lot of time on Scripture. I’m of average intelligence and I cannot read Scripture intelligently without resorting to safe commentary. The commenary I rely upon the most is Father Haydock. If I can’t find a reasonable comment there I usuallly forget about it. I rarely go futher.

      • Rouxfus

        Linus, the Faith of the church is supported by a tripod: Tradition, Scripture, and the Teaching Office of the Church through its bishops, first among them being the Holy Father. Like the Trinity, they cannot be separated, as they provide mutual support. Pull any of those legs out and the tripod falls to the ground. You cannot read scripture without reference to Tradition and the teachings of the Church. The Teaching of the Church, without Scriptire would be hollow; same with Tradition. Try to imagine the liturgy of the Sacrifice of the Mass without scripture.

        It is a myth that Catholics do not spend time with scripture. The faith, the Cathechism, our rites, hymns, prayed are so infused with scripture, but we don’t always realize it. We get our scripture in processed form, like cuts from the butcher, or a sizzling steak on a platter. Rarely do we get the big picture whole cow narrative of the history of salvation view, which is why programs such as the Great Adventure Bible Timeline is so worthwhile. It ties it all together in a way that helps Catholics understand how the faith we know derives from scriptures, and how scripture tis in with the teachings of the Church.

        • http://platytera.blogspot.com/ Christian

          Yes. Catholics know a thousand fragments of the Bible. But they do not know the Bible comprehensively; and are reasonably impressed by those who do.

          This is one reason that I teach my 6th grade catechism class directly from the Bible, and not the textbook.

    • Famijoly

      Interestingly enough, I encountered this in the afternoon after a morning Lectionary-based Scripture study during which a few participants related encounters with relatives and friends who stepped away from the Eucharist for some of the same reasons stated here, mainly like Tim Pawlenty for religious harmony in marriage. Using the Pawlenty marriage as an example, one can sum up as follows: Her Protestantism is stronger than his Catholicism.

      Stories were shared in the Scripture study that prepared us for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ about non-practicing cradle Catholics’ experiences of momentary returns to the Catholic environment via weddings and funerals and going to Mass occasionally with Catholic relatives. There seems to be a consistent pattern of reaction: peace over being in familiar surroundings and anxiety and sadness and regret, in the light of that aforementioned peace, over seeking a “church home” in another neighborhood.

      One woman I know left the practice of the faith when her Baptist fiance (now husband of more than 30 years) put his foot down and said that no child of his would be brought up in the Catholic Church. She still carries a Rosary in her purse and attempts to cosmeticize her inner conflict by referring to herself as a “Batholic.” In short, his Protestantism is stronger than her Catholicism.

      Those types of testimonies highlight the fact that our faith is a precious gift and that even the best-intentioned decisions to leave the practice of that faith makes a major impact on a person’s soul.

      O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, all praise and all thanksgiving, be every moment thine.

    • http://Www.azlutheran.org/mtcalvary Rev Dave Poedel, STS

      A long time ago, I migrated away from the Roman Catholic Church, mostly because my new adult life was busy and exciting. I was working in emergency medicine and was “hot stuff”. A girl, who I later married, didn’t want to be Catholic, not really knowing why, and I wanted to be married in a church, so we stumbled upon a Lutheran parish. Long story short, she left me about the time God was renewing the Call I heard at age 7 to become a priest. I became a Lutheran (evangelical catholic) priest and in the process learned the Bible very well. After post-doctoral study in Rome I became convinced that the Roman Catholic Church of my youth was ready to bring Bible study to the laity in ways I wish my Lutheran parishioners would study the Bible. Maybe God is preparing Rome for me or vice versa, but in the meantime let’s start studying the Bible together!

    • http://Www.azlutheran.org/mtcalvary Rev Dave Poedel, STS

      Oh, by the way, I celebrate the Eucharist at Mass every week, hear confessions reguarly, and baptize sinners of all ages!

      Lutherans have sacraments, oh yes!

      • SylviaMarie

        Rev Dave, the migration story of your life was interesting, but most interesting to me was your comment that you “celebrate” Eucharist every week and “hear” confessions. You may celebrate, but you cannot confect, you may hear confessions, but you are unable to give absolution because you are not a priest ordained by a bishop in the apostolic succession. You do not have the indelible mark which sets apart Catholic priests in this life and the next.
        I haven’t ever had the opportunity to ask a Lutheran minister before, but if you don’t mind answering: Do you believe that the Eucharist is the true body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ under the appearance of bread? (As a separate question of whether you personally can confect this transubstantiation.)

        Also, if you believe you can give absolution to a penitent, by what authority where you given that faculty?

        I’m sorry. I know this is off topic. Like I said, I’ve been curious about these matters concerning Lutheran ministers for a long time – and it piqued my interest when you styled yourself “Lutheran evangelical catholic”. I’ve heard this before from Lutherans that they consider themselves catholic — are you making some point of difference between little c and big C catholic?

        I hope you don’t mind answering my questions. Thank you.

        • Cord Hamrick

          Sylvia:

          I do hope Rev. Dave will respond to your query.

          In case he doesn’t return to respond, I’ll offer some little bit of information from Lutheran and former-Lutheran sources:

          Lutheran pastors as individuals vary widely about the Eucharist. Some few hold the Catholic view, and claim to hold the Catholic view, and that it is compatible with Lutheranism. Some hold the Catholic view, while insisting they don’t. Far more hold various lesser views from a very-nearly Catholic view all the way down to a very-nearly Baptist (mere symbol, mere remembrance) view. This latter view is not really orthodox for Lutherans, but watered-down Lutheranism, like watered-down Catholicism, sometimes happens even in the clergy.

          I say that of what the individuals believe and profess. Various Lutheran synods make doctrinal professions, but the lack of unity and central authority makes enforcement of orthodoxy on this topic problematic.

          It is a rare modern Lutheran who is so charged with belief in the reality of Christ’s presence in the sacrament that he will do what Martin Luther did, and lick fallen crumbs or spilled drops from the floor, lest they should be defiled or ignored or trampled upon. (But then, in the Catholic view, Martin Luther was an ordained priest and entirely correct to believe that he held Jesus in his hands. It is the modern Lutherans, outside the succession, who are mistaken.)

          In modern Lutheran circles it sometimes happens that the extra which is not used in the service is thrown away. This is not supposed to happen, if one holds to the Lutheran confessions, but it does.

          Most Lutherans today see the Lutheran movement as a separate entity from the Catholic church and never give a thought to reconciliation. But those who call themselves “Evangelical Catholic” typically have greater interest in reconciliation, are in the “Romeward” wing of Lutheranism, and are more likely to consider reunion with the See of Peter the ultimate goal and destiny of their group. The Society of the Holy Trinity, a Lutheran ministerium, was previously a sort of vanguard in this area, but after several members of the Society and folks with similar views reconciled with Rome on an individual level (that is, left Lutheranism and became Catholic), the Society pulled back somewhat.

          As for the big-C little-c “Catholic vs. catholic” distinction: The little-c is usually intended to indicate that a person considers himself a part of the universal church teaching the fullness of Christian doctrine despite not being in communion with the See of Peter. The person using this formulation is trying to say, “I am not what you call a Catholic, as in the organizational trademark. But so far as I am aware, I am preaching and holding the faith of the saints and martyrs in its fullness and universality, which is what I think the word katholikos meant to Ignatius of Antioch when he used it circa AD 107.”

          Sylvia, that’s the best information I can give you re: Lutherans; the result of my study of them while I was on the road to Rome myself. But I hope an actual Lutheran will come in and confirm the above, and clarify or correct anything I’ve misstated.

          • SylviaMarie

            Cord,
            Thanks for the explanation. Actually, It’s clear as mud to me. I understand what you said but I guess there’s just a lot about Lutheranism that confuses me. For a Lutheran pastor to say: “Lutherns have sacraments, oh yes!” Well, I suppose I’m naive and think from someone who says he’s a Lutheran evangelical catholic and has done post-doctoral study in Rome, I was hoping for a concise answer (or some answer) to how he himself as a Lutheran minister can have valid sacraments. I always get confused when I read things written by Lutherans, and I think it’s because they’re confused. I always want to ask questions and have never been able to before ’cause I’m usually reading it in a magazine article. Maybe Rev Dave has not surfed back to this comm box.

            Rev Dave, if you’re out there, can you tell me how you view these things — the subjects of my questions in the previous comment? I’m more interested in what an individual who is committed to his beliefs thinks rather than a ministerium or some such body. What do you really believe happens when you hear a confession or you celebrate a liturgy?

            I suppose this is not a very good venue for this sort of question, but what’s a curious Catholic housewife supposed to do with all the questions bubbling around in her brain? So I ask ‘em if I got ‘em.

            Cord, thanks again for taking the time to write that very informed response. Very kind of you.

    • Joseph

      Let’s not forget the Sacrifice in the Mass as well as the Holy Eucharist. At the Mass, we join the offering of Jesus on the cross reconciling us to the Father. Jesus is in eternity continuously offering Himself to the Father. In an unbloody way, represented by the separate consecrations, the Mass is the vehicle through which we in time are able to be present at Calvary. Communion joins us to the Last Supper, as the Eucharistic Prayer joins us to Calvary. In time, Holy Thursday came before Good Friday. In the Mass Good Friday comes before Holy Thursday showing us the mystical relationship between the two This is not to deny anything else in our Mass such as its relationship to Scripture and prayer. Missing Mass is not only missing the Eucharist, it is also missing the Redemptive Act of Jesus.

    • Presbyter

      Sad. I just cannot understand how a Church with such a heavy Biblical Liturgy ( THREE Scripture readings every Sunday) can not meet the criterion for “serious”Biblical study?
      Yes, too many homilies are merely “pep talks” and “what I think” streams of consciousness. But surely some of those passages must “stick” and not all homilies ignore the Scripture? And to give up the Eucharist to satisfy one’s curiosity for Bible study? I’ve been a priest for over 30 years and to be honest, there is a fair amount of dilettantism in the quest for “Bible study”. However, I think this is an another example of vacuity and shallowness of the “new” Church. Sad…sad.
      We live in an era of conservative Chistian Republican defectors from the Catholic Faith: Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Tim Pawlenty. Almost all of our “Catholic” polticians are turn-coats in other ways.

      • SylviaMarie

        Presbyter, I had to get out my always handy dictionary to look up the meaning of “dilettantism”, and now I have to thank you very much for giving me the appropriate word to describe this ambiguous and mostly doubtful feeling I’ve had about Catholic parish Bible study groups. Several months ago I joined a 10-week group in a popular “discipleship” series at the kind urging of the parish PAFF, who I believe is very committed, along with our priest, to slowly removing the many protestantizing influences currently holding sway in our parish.

        The study group was all I feared it would be. Without any reference to any authority, everyone talked about how the appointed scriptures passages made them feel and “what it means to you.” Ugh. Many times I thought, while listening to individuals’ comments, that’s not what the Church teaches. But I didn’t say anything ‘cause I couldn’t say exactly where to find the correct teaching. I tried to just be a good listener, but that’s nearly impossible. I found myself caught up just like everybody else, prefacing my comments with words like “I think it means” and “maybe it’s meant to say”. Oy vey!

        We were ten little “protestant” self-interpreters all with a definite opinion and no authority ever being referred to. I quit the group. I’m back to reading Mary of Agreda’s Mystical City of God, Anne Catherine Emmerich’s Life of Christ, St. Faustina’s diary, anything by JP II, Archbishop Sheen, or Benedict XVI, and most especially reading the Bible while in adoration. If the Lord wants to speak to me then, I’m ready and willing to listen, but I won’t be repeating it to anyone in a Bible study group as if it had some authority.

        By the way, thank you very much for answering God’s call to the priesthood and serving God’s people for 30 years. God Love You.

        • Tom

          SylviaMarie
          I know what you are saying: self styled lay “biblical experts” that “study” by dissecting passages, compare Bible translations etc… But I also attended weekly secessions based on Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, where passages for the coming week were read, then reflected for 15-20 minutes in silence, then each person in the group said a few sentences in turn (never about self, as not to degenerate into group therapy). At the end, a very knowledgeable priest summed up the 3 passages and gave prepared short beautiful reflections on prayer and daily life, based on these passages. What it taught me is that the Gospels are 1) 85-95% clear, simple to understand and can help with daily life; there is not reason to be afraid of reading the Gospels and letters; 2) very importantly for me: 5-15% can be difficult to read and the priest simply advised to “skip” such passages (not to get caught up), because the difficulty often has to do with translation or historical context (although there are sections that can be genuinely difficult to read, but those are not in the majority); 3) re-reading a same passage may give different perspectives, depending on the issues one is facing at that moment, so re-reading is a good thing; 4) the priest was against calling this “studying”, but simply “praying” with the Bible; 5) he said a mass after, then the group had breakfast together; 6) the priest’s presences was important for me, when he left, the group continued without a priest. It quickly degenerated into long discussions and I left the group; but I still follow his advice.

          • SylviaMarie

            Tom, it sounds like you had an experienced priest leading your group to keep it on track. Not so with our group. Sometimes our priest joined us, but he’s only four years from ordination and young enough to be either the son or grandson of all the people in our group. We did not stay on track.

            When our priest is not there, people take turns being a “faciliator” and leading the group. I leave feeling like we didn’t accomplish much understanding of the Scripture, but we did “share” a lot. Actually, it nice to get to know the other folks more personally than just casual chit-chat over coffee and donuts, but that’s not really what I expected. I guess I don’t know what I expected or wanted. I just know the personal interpretations turned me away. Talking about this (writing this comment) has made me decide to suggest to our PAFF that we have a regular meeting of adults that want to share personal stories of faith — maybe it’d be good to have a venue specifically for that purpose. Hey, I think I’m getting interested in this idea. Tomorrow after Mass, I’m gonna suggest it to our PAFF!

        • Presbyter

          Thank you for your kind words!
          Your description of what passes for “Catholic” Bible study is too often the case. I remember one such in which I listened to 10 members of my Parish Staff “share” the coming Sunday’s Gospel along the lines of “what I think it means…what it means to me..”. When I said as kindly as I could “well..here’s what it ACTUALLY means…” they were stunned, even offended.
          You hit the nail on thr head: it was actually a Protestant private interpretation group in all but name.

    • Arnold

      Presbyter, I would not include Sarah Palin on your list of Catholic defectors. Her parents switched at a time when Sarah was a minor. From all appearances, Glenn Beck was a Catholic in name only with little if any religious formation at the time his family went church shopping. The “almost all” Catholic politicians who are turn-coats tend to be on the Democrat side. There are an increasing number of Catholic GOP politicians who do not fall into that category. Sam Brownback is one for the reverse lefger.

      • Presbyter

        True..but none of the ex-Catholics I mentioned returned to the Church of their Baptism ( and perhaps Confirmation) when the religious quest came into their lives. This is not to blame them, but to reflect on the weakness of the hold of the Catholic Church on their imaginations, indeed, their souls. For Pawlenty to abandon the Faith after claiming a deep and conscientious practice of the Sacraments simply becuse his wife knew “her Bible” is more troubling.
        Beck and the Palin family are interesting in another way: when they chose a religion it was to enter religions that are home-grown American products. Mormonism is not orhodox Christianity at all and Sarah Palin’s church is one of the many local variations on Evangelicalism.
        As for the politicians: yes the Democrat “RC’s” are mostly despicable. Sad to say, Brownback seems not to be a national figure.

    • Michael PS

      A protestant once asked Bl John Henry Newman where “transubstantiation” was to be found in scripture. Newman retorted, ” ὁμοούσιον τῷ Πατρί” [consubstantial with the Father] is not to be found in scripture, but in the holy fathers, who well understood and faithfully expounded them.”

    • Ray Marshall

      “So why are so few lay Catholics serious students of Scripture?”

      Because we have Jesus present in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, that’s why!!!!

      Baptist have singing and preaching. Entertainment!

    • Tom

      Because we have Jesus present in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, that’s why!!!!
      We still need to know better the Gospel, where Christ explains why he did the Holy Sacrifice.

    • Giovanni A. Cattaneo

      My take on is that Pawlenty was subjected to the liturgy of the Novus Ordo and hence so no difference between that and his wife’s church. “Relativism” very much in those terms. First communion, Mass and confirmation came to him as just things to do, but did not learn anything of what they meant, did not get the richness and deepness of its meaning. In other words he heard the words but did not understand it very sad.

    • Deacon Ed

      POINT OF FACT:
      Catholic parents and Catholic leaders (bishops and priests) responsible for catechizing youthful faithful have done a lousy job over the last 45 years. Young people are so poorly prepared in the faith that they are not only ill-equipped to evangelize, but are unlikely to sustain any germ of faith through their early adult years.

      If Pawlenty were adeqautely steeped in the faith when young, he would have been able to evangleize his wife instead of the other way around. Either we hold the full deposit of faith in the Catholic Church or we do not. If we do, let’s discharge our obligations to the young by catechizing them in it so that they can, in turn, evangelize the world.

    • Michael PS

      We all seem to be overlooking the obvious point, made so clearly by Mgr Ronald Knox:

      “The faithful, be they many or few, be their doctrine apparently traditional or apparently innovatory, be their champions honest or unscrupulous, are simply those who are in visible communion with the see of Rome. No doubt, in the long run this means the people who are so orthodox that Rome has seen no reason to excommunicate them, so that unity and orthodoxy still react upon one another. But the fact remains that the Roman theory does give a test for defining the faithful without the question-begging preliminary of acertaining who the faithful are, from an examination of their tenets. And in fact there can be little doubt that, in the West, our labelling of this party as orthodox and that as heterodox in early Church history comes down to us from authors who were applying this test of orthodoxy and no other.”

    • Colleen G

      As a protestant convert, which by the way took 17 years of Church membership to begin to take hold and hinged on my husbands eventual growth example, I really believe one of the major problems is not having the opportunity at the beginning or ending of Mass for laypeople or teachers to stir up the excitement of extended learning to the people. So many cradle Catholics don’t understand the value and necessity of further growth outside of the Mass! If we were able to make announcements and invite others to a CCC class or any other class with enthusiasm, I believe many more folks would get excited over learning more about their faith. Yes we do have announcements over what is in the bulletin but no “back cover of the book” summary of what each class would be about! We have an extremely active parish but such a small percentage of us take advantage of the classes.

      Though we can blame all sorts of people for not doing their jobs well, it takes each one of us to participate and share excitement of learning and FELLOWSHIP to show there is something that is missing and can be added.

      For the love of Christ, His Church and each other, get excited and share your faith and your journey with each other! The truth of vibrant, living faith is what we all need! :O)

    • Jim

      I haven’t read all of the comments here. I was a convert from no religion in 2006. A good Catholic education starts in the home. It does not end with confirmation. It continues the rest of our lives. Also, being FAITHFUL to Church teaching, and frequenting the Sacraments are essential. This includes humbling ourselves and going to confession frequently.

      God Bless you all!

    • Chris in Maryland

      Jim is right.

      The imitation of Christ doesn’t happen on “auto- pilot.”

    • mrd

      The hard fact right now is that there is a tide of movement from Catholicism to the Evangelical community, particularly prominent in South America and among Hispanics in the United States. I think a personal story makes the reason for this clear.

      Recently my 12 year old son, had the good fortune to play in a youth baseball team, coached by a former major league baseball player who was also an Evangelical Christian. Although this gentleman had a pretty successful career of over 10 years in the majors, he was very circumspect about his career and rarely mentioned he was a major league ball player. After the season, at a team end of the year party he did give all of the players a little memento, his autographed baseball card. On the back was not a list of his “stats” but rather the bible verse John 3:16. There was a brief discussion of the meaning of this verse and a call to place one’s faith in Jesus in order to be saved. Now leaving aside some of the theological differences, one would have with Evangelical Christianity ( faith versus works and all that…) I was impressed with the clarity of his believe. In the Evangelical view man is corrupted by original and personal sin, can not redeem himself and is damned unless he accepts Jesus as his savior. I can clearly understand then why if one accepted this it was imperative to be a Christian…. But today Can a Catholic articulate a clear case for being a Catholic? Not so much..

      There was a time when a Catholic of the Baltimore Catechism generation might have been able to make the need for the Church clear. This version would have included the importance of avoiding mortal sin, and the absolute need of the help of the sacraments to obtain the actual grace and restore the sanctifying grace we needed for salvation. Still the importance of being a Catholic was clear. While non Catholics could perhaps be saved, without the sacraments, confession, the Eucharist, it was viewed as very difficult. Now however Catholics do not talk or think this way. ( How many people do you think know what “grace” is, how many think you need confession after mortal sin…)

      In the absence of such an understanding why someone should be a Catholic is nebulous indeed. The issue is not scripture study at all. The issue is that the institutional Catholic Church is unable or unwilling to articulate a compelling reason one should be a Catholic. ( My oldest son being told by a confirmation facilitator last year that “atheists can be good people too…) If this is what we are selling it is a long way from the Great commission.. IT is also a long way from ” I am the Way, The Truth and the Life, and no one gets to the Father but through me”

      This collapse of the faith is why people are leaving. No one is telling a compelling story. The wordy , but bland stuff dispensed in most USCCB documents, or the average sermon that never offends, never condemns, never mentions sin, or hell, just does not offer a meaningful or even coherent message. As such people vote with their feet. This is tragic really because I would argue Catholicism is “the one true Faith” but most people, even most Catholics do not believe in “truth’ as such.

    • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

      That is the big victory of relativism in our culture–the belief that there is no such thing as Truth. Or maybe, there is my Truth and your Truth (which negates the very idea of Truth.
      Yet this used to be the strong suit of the Catholic Church–She is the One, True, Church founded by Jesus Christ on St. Peter and the apostles.
      One need only read the Apostolic Fathers and the Church Fathers to see which current church is the one with the genuine historic grounding.
      That is why so many Evangelicals who finally look a step or two beyond the Bible soon find themselves on the Road to Rome,
      Somehow we’ve got to revive people’s sense of the fact that Truth exists.

    • mrd

      We do need to revive the idea that truth exists. We can start by a return to the Baltimore Catechism, or a perhaps a slightly updated version. The Catechism dares state at its very beginning the meaning of life. Or the “End of Man”

      Who Made you?
      God Made me.

      Why did God Make you?
      God made me to know him, love him and serve him in this world so as to be happy with him in the next…

      Where else does the very meaning of life get stated with such clarity? Not a lot of soul searching or naval gazing here. The Church was confident it had the answer mankind was seeking. You can agree or not, but the very words force you to decide where you stand. Jesus spoke like this.. so clear as to force a decision for or against. If you agree then other questions logically follow. How do I know him, or serve him? Of course the Church could give the answer to these things as well. The answers made it clear precisely why one should be a Catholic.

      When the average Sunday sermon starts to be similarly crystal clear, then we might see some light at the end of the tunnel.

    • V

      I too have heard this rumor that Protestants know the bible better than Catholics.

      So why is it, when I was studying the bible (well before I became Catholic) the historians I was asking gave me a Catholic Bible, because it was “more accurate translations” and the commentary was considered, “More clear, consistent and informed”? These were agnostic ivy league academics who were rigorous about historical accuracy, and by no means Catholic themselves.

      Granted, the good Catholic folks I know now may not, necessarily be able to always quote line and verse, but are able to explain the passages you read to them with more clarity and understanding than I saw at any Protestant church.

      I will confess I’ve been blessed with well catechised friends here in Chicago. I pray it is more wide-spread than this article insinuates.

    • Gus

      Pawlenty is now off my radar. Seems as though he has not read John 6.