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  • Ever Ancient, Ever New: The Role of Beauty in the Restoration of Catholic Culture

    by Bishop James D. Conley, STL

    Michelangelo's_Pieta

    When I began my seminary studies, I had only been a Catholic for a few years. I had converted to the Catholic Church during my undergraduate years at the University of Kansas through a course of studies in the Great Books called the Integrated Humanities Program.   When I started seminary, I was still learning the ropes of Catholicism.

    In my first semester, I discovered that new seminarians needed to find a spiritual director. A number of my brother seminarians recommended Fr. Anton Morganroth, one of our professors.

    Fr. Morganroth was a Jewish convert to the Catholic faith who fled Nazi Germany with his family in 1938. He was a tall, imposing figure.  He was both loved and feared by the seminarians.

    One day I mustered up the courage to introduce myself to Fr. Morganroth and I asked him if he would take me on for spiritual direction. He gazed down at me in silence, sizing me up, and then simply said “report to my quarters next Tuesday at 7pm.”

    After dinner in the refectory, Fr. Morganroth would return to his room to play his piano—he played brilliantly. If you had an appointment with him he would leave the door ajar. You were to simply push the door open and take a seat in a chair next to the piano.

    I remember making my way down the hallway toward Fr. Morganroth’s rooms for the first time, hearing beautiful classical piano music coming from his room. The door was ajar. I stood outside the door for a moment and just listened to the music. Eventually I pushed the door open, entered the room and took a seat. He looked over at me from the piano and nodded in approval.

    I sat there, listening to the music. There was a musical score on the piano—a Mozart sonata—but Fr. Morganroth had his eyes closed the whole time.  He was not reading the music. A few minutes went by. Then five minutes. Then seven minutes. Finally ten minutes went by.  He completed the piece and there was silence.

    I’ll never forget that silence.

    We were both caught up in the beauty of the moment. It was probably the first time I had ever really heard classical music at such close range. It was something like perfection.

    After a few moments of silence, eager to get started, I broke the silence and said “so, Father, are we going to have spiritual direction?”

    Fr. Morganroth turned. He stared right through me and said “son, zat was your spiritual direction, you can go now.”

    I returned the next week and we began our regular sessions, which were wonderful. But it was the beauty of that music that led the way; that opened my heart and mind to the realities of the spiritual life.

    Most of us love the truth and beauty of our Catholic faith, and we want to share it with others. Most of us also know that our culture is headed in an alarming direction—toward a crisis that cannot be averted without Jesus Christ and his Church.

    In fact, those two concerns—salvation and culture—are deeply related. The Gospel involves more than our individual salvation: it is also a universal mandate to, as Pope St. Pius X said, “restore all things in Christ.”  Such a mandate extends beyond our own personal sanctification.

    When we speak of evangelization, we mean not only the conversion of individuals, but also the transformation of culture. Christ is Lord of the public square, and our common life, just as he is the Lord of our homes and hearts. Thus, the Church’s evangelistic mission is also a mandate for cultural conversion.

    The Second Vatican Council confirmed this cultural mandate, in its decree on the lay apostolate. Chapter II of Apostolicam Actuositatem taught that “Christ’s redemptive work, while essentially concerned with the salvation of men, includes also the renewal of the whole temporal order.”

    “Hence,” the council said, “the mission of the Church is not only to bring the message and grace of Christ to men but also to penetrate and perfect the temporal order with the spirit of the Gospel.”

    Cultural renewal is essential, because the Catholic faith is not just a private conviction. The mystery of the Incarnation changes everything. Our faith is meant to be the basis of a culture—a shared way of life that uses the things of this world to glorify God.

    The great theologians teach us that grace does not abolish the good things of this world. Christ brings them, rather, to their fulfillment.  Our faith is incarnational.  All truth, all beauty, and all goodness, are “through him” and “for him.” These things are part of God’s redemptive plan. Truth, beauty, and goodness are integral to our salvation.

    Faithful Catholics care about truth: like our Lord, we want all people “to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” We care, too, about goodness—especially moral goodness, the life of virtue so often spurned by contemporary culture.

    But what about beauty? Where is the place for beauty in our evangelization of the culture?

    This is an important question, and one we sometimes overlook or misunderstand. It is this question, the role of beauty in evangelization and cultural renewal that I want to consider.

    The title of this essay is Ever Ancient, Ever New: The Role of Beauty in the Restoration of Catholic Culture.  The title is taken from a passage in Book X of the Confessions of Saint Augustine.  In Chapter X, Saint Augustine laments the fact that it has taken him 33 years to discover the beauty of the divine. In those immortal lines he cries out: “Late have I loved thee, O beauty ever ancient, ever new.”

    Beauty is both ancient and new: we are at once surprised and comforted by its presence.  Beauty exists in a sphere beyond time. And so beautiful things expose us to the timelessness of eternity.

    This is why beauty matters, in an eternal sense. Beauty was part of God’s creative plan in the beginning, and it is just as much a part of his redemptive plan now. God has placed the desire for beauty within our hearts, and he uses that desire to lead us back to himself.

    Truth and beauty are both gifts from God. So our New Evangelization must work to make truth beautiful. By means both ancient and new, we must make use of beauty—to infuse Western culture, once more, with the spirit of the Gospel.

    By means of earthly beauty, we can help our contemporaries discover the truth of the Gospel. Then, they may come to know the eternal beauty of God—that beauty Saint Augustine described as “ever ancient, ever new.”

    II. Encountering the Beauty of Christian Culture
    As I mentioned, I am a convert to the Catholic faith. I entered the Church in 1975, under the guidance of one of the 20th century’s great teachers—the late John Senior, co-founder of the Integrated Humanities Program at the University of Kansas. John Senior was my godfather, and his ideas about faith and culture are a continuing inspiration to me.

    My godfather loved beauty—not for its own sake, but for the sake of Jesus Christ, the creator and redeemer of beauty. Senior saw the beauty of this world in the light of eternity, and he helped others to acquire the same transcendent vision.

    John Senior was not an evangelist, in the traditional sense of the word: he did not preach from a pulpit, or write works of apologetics. His goal in the classroom was not to convert us, but to open our minds to truth, wherever it might be found. And he did that primarily through the imagination.

    In his own unusual way, Senior was a remarkably gifted evangelist. He had a deep love for the Church, and for the beauty of historic Christian culture. And that love was infectious. There were literally hundreds of converts to the Catholic Church at the University of Kansas in the 1970’s.

    The Integrated Humanities program ran from 1970 to 1979, a decade that, with the exception of some really great rock and roll, was a cultural wasteland.

    When I began the program, there was little of Christendom’s rich history in my cultural formation.  At the University of Kansas, my fellow students and I had very little sense of our own cultural inheritance. We were ignorant of Western civilization’s founding truths, and we had only a passing acquaintance with the beauty they had inspired.

    Our lives had largely been shaped by the crass appeals of the mass media, and the passing fads of popular culture. There was a lack of truth in our lives, certainly; but there was also a profound lack of beauty. Our souls were starving for both, and we did not even know it.

    But John Senior knew what we were lacking. His fellow professors, Dennis Quinn and Frank Nelick, also knew. They knew that students had to encounter beauty, and have their hearts and imaginations captured first by beauty, before they could pursue truth and goodness in a serious and worthy manner.

    Truth was the ultimate goal. But the search for truth involved certain habits of mind, and habits of life, which we—as students—did not have. Our pursuit of truth required an initiation into beauty: the beauty of music, visual art and architecture, nature, poetry, dance, calligraphy, and many other things.

    Through these experiences of beauty, we gained a sense of wonder; and that sense of wonder gave us a passion for truth. The motto of the IHP was a famous little Latin phrase: Nascantur in Admiratione (“let them be born in wonder”).

    The experience of beauty changed us. When we studied the great philosophers and theologians, we were open to their words. We no longer assumed that truth was found in the dictates of popular culture—just as we no longer saw modern fads and fashions as the pinnacle of beauty. Truth is perennial and beauty is timeless.

    As I mentioned, a large number of students became Catholic through the Integrated Humanities Program. But this was not the result of proselytism in the classroom nor was it engaging in apologetics. It occurred because we became lovers of beauty, and thus, seekers of truth. Beauty gave us “eyes to see” and “ears to hear,” when we encountered the Gospel and the Christian tradition.

    III. The Transcendent Language of Beauty
    I know, from experience, that beauty can reach people who seem unreachable. It can open their minds to truths they might otherwise dismiss. Even hardened skeptics and postmodernists find it hard to deny the reality of beauty, when they encounter it in a setting conducive to contemplation and reflection.

    We have to realize that our ambient secular culture has a tight grip on the imagination. It is hard to break through. But the power of beauty still has a force that can penetrate even the hardest of hearts.

    The experience of beauty is transformative. It awakens a sense within us, that life is meaningful on the most profound level. Beauty can move us to humility, giving us a sense of wonder before the mystery of life. The encounter with beauty speaks to us about the true, awe-inspiring nature of existence.

    This is why we speak of beauty as something “transcendent.” Every instance of real beauty points beyond itself, toward the infinite perfection of God. He invested this world with many forms of captivating beauty, so that created things would lead us to contemplate the transcendent glory of the Creator.

    We can think of beauty as a kind of language, through which God speaks to our hearts and souls. He is always speaking in this way—to all of us—believers and nonbelievers alike.

    The beauty of creation declares the glory of God, even to those who do not yet believe.  In beauty, the Lord reveals himself. In a similar way, artistic beauty shows us that man is made in the Creator’s image—even if the artist himself does not acknowledge this fact.

    The language of beauty is especially important in our time, because we live in a period of grave intellectual and moral confusion.

    Beauty is not the only language God uses to communicate his glory. Our Creator also speaks to our souls through intellectual truth and moral goodness.

    But these forms of communication have become problematic. Many people, especially in modern Western culture, are too intellectually and morally confused to receive such a message.

    God still speaks to these individuals in the language of truth and goodness. But their understanding is blocked by popular misconceptions—especially the idea that truth and goodness are purely subjective, and thus relative to the individual or group. “To each his own” or “who’s to say.” What Pope Benedict called the “dictatorship of relativism.”

    Fr. Robert Barron, the Rector of Saint Mary of the Lake Seminary in Chicago, a theologian and great communicator of the faith, has lately taught that in the New Evangelization we must “lead with beauty.” Fr. Barron says that postmodern man might scoff at truth and goodness, but he’s still enthralled with beauty. He says that beauty is the arrowhead of evangelization, the point with which the evangelist pierces the minds and hearts of those he evangelizes.

    To say with the poet, “look up, look up at the stars” is to point to creation or even to an artistic achievement, invites the nonbeliever first to appreciate what is and then to consider the origin of that which is.

    In a cultural environment bereft of wonder, beauty takes on an even greater importance than it would otherwise have. Something in the experience of beauty is almost undeniable, even for the person who rejects the idea of objective truth or goodness. Beauty can get through, where other forms of divine communication may not.

    When we begin with beauty, this can then lead to a desire to want to know the truth of the thing that is drawing us, a desire to participate in it. And then the truth can inspire us to do the good, to strive after virtue.

    In one of his pre-papal writings, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the experience of being “wounded by the arrow of beauty.” That is a wonderful image for an experience shared by believers and non-believers alike. God’s “arrow of beauty” can pierce through many layers of confusion and error.

    When that arrow reaches its target, a way opens within the heart. The search for truth becomes possible, and an obstacle to faith disappears.

    IV. Beauty in the New Evangelization
    Clearly, beauty has a major role to play in the New Evangelization. I want to conclude with three points of guidance, which will help us incorporate beauty in our re-evangelization of Western culture.

    The first point—and the most essential—is that we must present the truths of faith in a beautiful way. Our liturgical worship, in particular, must reflect God’s own beauty and holiness.

    Worship, after all, is the basis of Christian culture. The beauty of the sacred liturgy is meant to radiate outward into the world. Liturgical beauty shapes the common life of believers, and it can also help to attract those who are outside the Church.

    A leading liturgical scholar, Monsignor Nicola Bux, has said that: “a mystical liturgy celebrated with dignity can be a great help for people searching to find God.”

    “Historically,” he notes, “great converts were struck by grace while attending solemn rites and listening to extraordinary chants.”

    Monsignor Bux is right. To renew Catholic culture, and evangelize our contemporaries, we must restore beauty to the sacred liturgy. If we cannot restore beauty and holiness to our sanctuaries, we will not be able to restore it anywhere else.

    My second recommendation is that we familiarize ourselves with the beauty of historic Christian culture. We do not all have to be scholars like John Senior. But we should open our hearts and minds to the beautiful things that the Incarnation has made possible.

    Recently the fledgling monastery of Benedictine Nuns north of Kansas City have recorded two beautiful CDs of Gregorian chant for the record label Decca and sales have gone through the roof. People recognize beauty when they see it and hear it.

    The Benedictine Monks of Clear Creek, the founders of whom are fellow classmates of mine from the IHP, started the monastery with 12 monks in 1999 and now count 42—all young and living lives of prayer and work, ora et labora—centered on chanting in Latin the psalms throughout the day.

    It is interesting to talk to the local Oklahoma farmers who have lived in the area for generations, an area which has very few Catholics. They are enamored with the monks.  Farming, and friendship, is an important point of common ground. Through dialogue and friendship, we can help the world to understand the Christian worldview that inspired the beauty we all appreciate.

    Finally, I would suggest that we open our own minds to beauty, in all its manifestations. It is often said that all truth is God’s truth, wherever one finds it; and the same can be said of beauty: all genuine beauty belongs to God, wherever it may be found.

    Christian culture is a supreme expression of beauty in the service of truth. But there is beauty to be found everywhere, throughout God’s creation and the field of culture. The Jesuit priest and poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, a favorite of Pope Francis, wrote that the whole world was “charged with the grandeur of God,” for those with eyes to see it.

    So we must develop our own appreciation of beauty, wherever it exists. Then we can help others to see beauty for what it is: an earthly reflection of God’s glory—a glory that leads to truth and goodness.

    V.  Conclusion
    In the midst of our present cultural crisis, we can take courage, knowing that God is not silent. He continues to speak powerfully by means of beauty, even to those who have become dulled to the realities of truth and goodness.

    “Beauty will save the world,” wrote Dostoevsky.  It will.  When it points to God’s enduring love.

    There are many souls to rescue, and a vast cultural wasteland to restore. Both tasks will require fluency in God’s language of beauty.

    To speak this language, we must first begin to listen. And to listen, we must have silence in our lives. I pray that God will open our eyes and ears to beauty, and help us use it in the service of the Truth.

    Editor’s note: This essay is based on an address given by Bishop Conley to the Catholic Answers conference in September, 2013.

    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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    • Tradmeister

      “The crisis is over; we have lost. This is no longer just a prediction, it is a
      simple observation: Rome has been desecrated. We are in the age of darkness.
      Triumphalist reactions are in vain. The modern world and the Church deserve the
      punishment that God is raining down on us.”

      –John Senior

      • ralph+

        wrong

        • Tradmeister

          I trust you understand that I’ll tend to be giving Mr. Senior’s worldview the benefit of the doubt until such time as you marshal substantial evidence to prove otherwise.

          • slainte

            John 16:32-33

            32 Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.

            33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world………
            Our Lord’s words constitutes substantial evidence.

            • Marcellus

              I fail to see how these words of Our Lord constitute evidence contrary to Mr. Senior’s worldview To say we are in an age of darkness in no way contradicts Christ’s statement that the hour will come when we will be scattered or that we in the world will have tribulation. Nor does Senior deny that we can have peace in such times of trial or be of good cheer. In fact, everything I know about Senior confirms that he had peace and was of good cheer despite his view of the hopelessness of this world. That’s because he did not live for this world.

              • slainte

                In the Gospel of John 16, 32-33, Jesus tells us that we humans will choose to leave Him by embracing this world (sin); NOT that He will leave us.

                By virtue of our free choice to separate and scatter ourselves from His fold, we experience the pain of disunity from our source in the form of tribulation.

                In loving response, Jesus reminds us that through His death and resurrection He has overcome this world and conquered the sin that caused us to separate from Him.

                He leaves it up to us…when we are ready to turn away from sin, He is ready to embrace us and give us His peace, just as the father welcomed home the Prodigal Son. We control the outcome of our destiny by choosing God, and it can start by just one of us seeking forgiveness.

                Contrary to Mr. Senior’s dark prediction, Our Lord does not rain down punishment upon us; he graces us with his unmerited and undeserved mercy and an open door for us to return.

                • Marcellus

                  Senior did not believe that Christ would leave us. However, he believed, as you say, that we could leave him through sin. And he also believed that Christ graces us with his unmerited and undeserved mercy and an open door for us to return. As for whether our Lord “rains down punishment upon us,” are you saying that we are never punished for our sins or are you are saying that punishment can only occur after death?
                  By the way, I don’t think Senior is predicting anything in the quote above. He is only stating what is obvious. And I believe he is speaking somewhat poetically in talking about the punishment God is raining down upon us. Perhaps the punishment we are being given is simply having to endure the consequences of our choices. In this regard and apropos to Bishop Conley’s article, having to attend Mass at a church that has been gutted while listening to the banal church music that has been written since the 60s is a great suffering if not a punishment for our stupidity.

                  • slainte

                    I interpret “punishment” as self imposed separation from God and recall Saint Augustine’s observation,

                    “Almighty God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you…”
                    I have faith that God hears the whispered prayers of love, gratitude, and repentance of every one of His beloved creatures who reverently seek His presence in their lives. Through the petitions of ordinary people restlessly seeking Him, He offers Himself to all of humanity to overcome the chaos of our sinful natures and the world.
                    If I might suggest, please consider attending Eucharistic Adoration…sit amidst the hushed quiet of the church, breathe in the soft aroma of lingering incense; observe the sheer holiness of Our Lord’s presence encased in the monstrance. Open your heart and mind and invite Him into your life. He will change you profoundly in unexpected ways.
                    The Extraordinary Form Latin Mass with its attendant Gregorian Chants is an exquisitely beautiful worship experience which will bring you into unity with Him through the Eucharist from which you will receive His peace and renewal.
                    Pax.

                    • Marcellus

                      Et introibo ad altare Dei: ad Deum qui laetificat iuventutem meam.

                      • slainte

                        P:
                        Confitebor tibi in cithara, Deus, Deus meus: quare tristis es anima mea, et
                        quare conturbas me?
                        P:
                        I shall yet praise Thee upon the harp, O God, my God. Why art thou sad, my
                        soul, and why art thou downcast?

                        S:
                        Spera in Deo, quoniam adhuc confitebor illi: salutare vultus mei, et Deus
                        meus.
                        S:
                        Trust in God, for I shall yet praise Him, my Savior, and my God.

                        P:
                        Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto.
                        P:
                        Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.

                        S:
                        Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper: et in saecula saeculorum.
                        Amen.
                        S:
                        As it was in the beginning is now, and ever shall be, world without end.
                        Amen.

                        P:
                        Introibo ad altare Dei.
                        P:
                        I will go to the altar of God.

                        S:
                        Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam.

          • rodlarocque1931

            Yes I too think we are living through a true chastisement….

      • Sam Scot

        I searching for a connection to the article above. Your point is . . . ?

        • Tradmeister

          You did not see John Senior mentioned in the article? He was apparently the mentor of the authoring bishop here. And Mr. Senior’s grave assessment of our situation can be considered relevant and availing us of a more comprehensive understanding of his views.

      • http://eacafe.blogspot.com/ Oo_oc_oO

        So… your point is just give up? Or what? I think everyone is well aware of the problems we face, so there isn’t much need to point that out.

      • petersjohn

        Dont be so negative Trad. Hope springs eternal…and as long as we are aware of our problems, and own them, we will effect change…with prayer, and sacrifice.
        We do , after all have Our Blessed Saviour on our side, so we have a majority…..
        May I reccommend devotion to The Divine Mercy to you. God bless you Trad

        • Tradmeister

          I am simply noting John Senior’s observation of the truth and concurring in his judgment. Nothing wrong with that. I can candidly face the truth while retaining hope in the future.

    • ralph+

      I live in Maine and at least twice a month I get up before 5 and go to the Latin Mass in Lewiston, about 55 miles away. I like to get there early so I can sit in the Basilica (St. Peter & St. Paul) and just sit there and pray, think, pray, enjoy the silence, etc.

      Once I got there really early of a spring morning and the Church was dark and as I walked in I heard the organist – he was practicing

      Be not afraid

      OMT – I am NOT Ralph, and Ralph if you’re out there – I am Uuncle Max. Being functionally illiterate in re computers I have no idea how this came about nor how to fix it.

      • TheodoreSeeber

        Ralph must have used your computer at one time to log into Disqus. Pull down the little down arrow next to the gear icon at the top of the comments, log out. Then log back in with your facebook, Google Plus, or some other ID.

    • publiusnj

      I have been blessed to be Catholic all my life and to have had a mother and grandmother who took us to 2 very beautiful churches as children: my local parish in upper Manhattan and St. Patrick’s Cathedral where we would visit the Pieta. I have had the great grace to have been to the Botticelli Room in the Uffizi and to have seen Botticelli’s great rondo Madonnas in the same room as the Birth of Venus. I just learned on another Catholic blog that the same model was probaly used for both Venus and the Madonna of the Magnificat: Simonetta Vespucci.

      As the author notes: “God still speaks to individuals in the language of truth and goodness. But their understanding is blocked by popular misconceptions….” That is certainly the truth when it comes to the popular culture’s unremitting war on Catholicism and the inherited culture. Nothing is so drilled into us than the “fact” that the Church and culture waged unremitting war on women until Gloria Steinem’s/Bella Abzug’s uprisingin the Sixties. I recently read a blog that recommended Anglican Convert Fr. Robert Benson’s “Come Rack, Come Rope” written in 1912 (i.e., long before Ms. Steinem freed women) and picked up the book. One of the two most important characters in the story is Miss Marjorie Manners, a woman of the 16th Century. Yet
      Fr. Benson during the “benighted” start of the 20th Century portrayed her not as a “frail” but as a super competent, brave and resourceful manager who was the equal of any man in the story. Whatever the historical truth of Miss Manners, the portrayal puts the lie to the claim that the culture was unremittingly portraying women as frails until the 1960s because Fr. Benson was writing in 1912, fifty years before Ms. Steinem got her bunny ears.

      • slainte

        Good Shepherd Church in Inwood is beautiful.

    • http://www.OneBillionStories.com/ OneBillionStories.com

      Blessed to have had Bishop Conley in Denver, and we are excited to see his return to an encounter with the plains of America, a different type of beauty compared to the Rocky Mountains, where his encounter with beauty first began.

    • gregoryvii

      God bless Bishop Conley, a great and holy bishop.

    • hombre111

      Bishop Conley is an excellent writer. But I was disappointed when the only examples he offers re the beauty of Christian culture are nuns and monks singing Gregorian Chant. Has he no examples of the beauty of Christ incarnate in the lives of ordinary Catholic lay people? In a couple of weeks, I am going to help a group of laymen conduct a retreat in a medium security prison. I have worked with them before, and have been stunned and humbled by their manly, generous faith. Or I think of couples I know who are active in Retrouvaille. They are wounded healers who struggled with their own marriages and now reach out to other married people who are about to give up. I can say the same thing about the old time Cursillo (not the rationalist theological workshop that passes for a Cursillo today). An astonishing, beautiful experience, especially in the prayer chapel with its ministry of song and prayer.

    • JohnnyVoxx

      I was born in 1970 and went to Catholic schools through 12th grade. I left thinking, “Oh well, that’s it? I guess there’s nothing there for me.” I walked into a Tridentine Mass for the first time in 2007 and came out a devout Catholic. I wish it were not true, but it is. I attend the “Ordinary Form” every other day of the week, but I would have no understanding of it or interest in it had I not experienced the Tridentine Mass. What can I say?

      • concerned

        What is also required for faith to flourish, is;
        1. FAR more inspiring enthusiastic dedicated teachers in our Catholic schools — enthusiastic for the intellectual beauty that can only be found in full in Catholic culture.

        Although I was fortunate to have encountered fantastic nuns who made the subject of religion absolutely fascinating, my own children tell me that this was severely lacking in their religion studies; with un-inspired students leaving school to end up leading meaningless lives trapped in mindless materialism and un-rewarding “pleasures“ — as meaningless as their fellow atheist friends’ lives (some of whom finally over-dosed on drugs).

        Some are still fumbling about trying to find a reason for living.
        Too lazy to search for God (often in only “nominally Catholic” households) … they find no beauty.
        Just wretched intellectual emptiness in the “scorched earth” of a neglected soul.

        2. FAR more inspiring sermons at Church — drawing more effectively on the examples from the teachings of Jesus and with applications to life today. This is urgently needed.

        3. The building up/training of the young to take leadership roles.
        There are many young people who wish to begin youth movements, but are disappointed in their priests ‘ reluctance to supervise the operations of potential youth movements.
        A huge need for the guidance of older priests and to bring their expertise to such enthusiastic people.
        It is not enough to just have the sites as of Fr. Barron’s “Word on Fire”.
        We need action.

    • Mary Lark Corbett

      Bishop Conley’s words were inspirational and very encouraging, providing a great sense of hope.

    • Diogenes

      “Recognizing the importance of a deep harmony between faith, liturgy, life, and the power of beauty in attracting the human senses to the things above, an integral part of the Institute’s charism is the use of the traditional Latin Liturgy of 1962 for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the other sacraments.”–From the website of the Institute of Christ the King, who apparently also see the importance of beauty in elevating man above himself. I believe that is one reason they say the traditional Mass, though not the only reason. The restoration of beauty in the liturgy could be furthered by a restoration of the traditional Mass.

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    • rodlarocque1931

      If the Holy Father could focus on just one thing, restoring the liturgy, restoring the beauty of our Temple worship, the rest of the problems in the Church and our relationship with the world would be resolved. Of course it wouldn’t be over night, but in a generation or two it would be repaired.
      If the traditional liturgy was restored, so would traditional piety, which would restore the traditional family which would restore the social order to one where justice reigns.
      It isn’t rocket science that since anachy has prevailed in the sactuary, so too in society.
      If the right relationship exists between God and man, then we will have peace.
      In the Church the modern sanctuary has led to a true rupture in that relationship, priests act like they are hosting a social gathering, the prayers and actions don’t fully indicate that a true sacrifice for sin is being made by the priest on behalf of the people and rarely indicate a level of awe and respect for the august sacrament. The faithful have no idea that they are to offer their daily sacrifices in union with the priest in persona Chrisi on the altar to the Father in reparation for sin. The laity are so ignorant of the faith that it is a true crisis.
      RESTORE the liturgy and you will RESTORE the world.
      Pope Francis …. are you listening…? .

    • Michael

      Fr Anton Morgenroth, C.S.Sp., was an accomplished pianist – I too had him for spiritual direction. One time I asked him, “Is that Mozart?” “No. That was an improvement on Mozart.”

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