Catholics Must Reject Elite Discourse

It seems that Catholics have been getting nowhere in the public square lately. The problem is not just losing ground on this issue or that, but an increasing inability to get our issues recognized as real and legitimate. That’s true not only with moral issues, but also with more basic ones like the rationality of religion and the very existence of human nature.

That situation seems to be new. Paul found that Christ crucified was foolishness to the Greeks and a stumbling block to the Jews, but he could quote Greek poets to the one and the Bible to the other, and with both he could appeal to the evidence of their hearts and the heavens. So he could start the discussion with a stock of common authorities and understandings.

Those are harder to find now. To make matters worse, Catholics share much of the incomprehension of their secular brothers. It’s not just nominal Catholics who often seem at a loss regarding the Church’s teachings and why they’re believable, but active laymen, educators, theologians, priests, and even bishops.

A basic part of the problem is the outlook that determines what is thought to make sense in public discussion today. Free speech doesn’t mean the best argument wins. If you say something that’s basically at odds with the attitudes and beliefs that animate a discussion you won’t be understood no matter what the merits. It will be as though you were speaking Etruscan, or trying to persuade a group of hunter-gatherers that they should go on a march to protest fat-shaming.

The problem grows with the size and diversity of the public. If the participants in a conversation are very numerous and different they aren’t likely to have much in common, and they won’t be able simply to say what’s on their mind and be confident of getting anywhere. Each will have to limit himself, and appeal to the few beliefs and concerns others can be counted on to share.

We learn what those are by looking at how public discussion is actually carried on. The result is that it becomes a specialized activity, the specifics of which are determined by what succeeds, and thus by considerations such as who runs things. Commercial and bureaucratic interests tend to dominate today, so public discussion is concerned more and more exclusively with concerns and understandings that make sense from their standpoint. The result is that in political life today “this would increase efficiency and labor force participation” sounds reasonable, while “this would help us become what we are meant to be as human beings” does not.

Since it is a specialized activity, the assumptions and techniques of public discussion are independent of everyday habit and experience and must be learned. One of the functions of formal education in a complex and highly organized society like our own is to train students, especially those expected to become leaders, in those things. The more at odds they are with the way people ordinarily speak and think the more insistent the training must be and the more it must suppress ordinary views and habits.

Global markets and neutral expert bureaucracies are far removed from daily life, so the outlook that pervades them is very different from the one people normally acquire from their family, daily experience, local community, and cultural and religious heritage. Students who are ambitious and intelligent spend sixteen or more years being drilled in the former outlook. Those who want to rise pick up on what they’re told, and adopt it as their own. Their outlook on the world thus becomes independent of tradition, ordinary human habits, and immediate experience, all of which they have been taught to reject as misleading.

Hence the loss of status by religion and literature, not to mention basic aspects of the art of living such as natural law morality. Those things take into account the whole of what we do and suffer. They gain their authority through their ability to illuminate life as we live and experience it in all its aspects, including loss, failure, and the non-career aspects that matter most to ordinary people.

The people who run our world—including many who run Catholic institutions—have been trained out of serious concern for such things. Theirs is a stripped-down view of the world that’s easily translated into commercial and bureaucratic language. In that view human relations have less to do with love, loyalty, and truth than with autonomy, nondiscrimination, and efficient allocation of human resources. Instead of the good, beautiful, and true, their vision of the good life mostly involves career success, with other concerns lumped together as leisure-time activities that each of us can choose and define for himself. The conception of justice is similarly stripped-down, and involves making the good life so conceived equally available to all. What is socially right is then the effort to arrange the world so everyone gets what he wants, as much and as equally as possible, consistent with the efficiency, coherence, and stability of the system.

Such a view is supported by all mainstream institutions and authorities. Popular entertainment emphasizes money and hedonism. Education is thoroughly career-oriented, and when it covers topics like religion and literature tends to do so in a reductive or debunking way. And pundits tell us that the highest moral values are equality and tolerance. The effect is that the most basic human concerns end up on the same level as internet memes. Religion and having children become private lifestyle choices, death becomes a weird event no one knows how to deal with, and the sole standards for good order between the sexes become consent, choice, and equal career success.

Such views are defended by their apparent simplicity and rationality: people equally want things, their desires have an equal claim to fulfillment, and the need for universality and simplicity demands that we derive our understanding of morality from those features of the situation rather than from confusing matters like natural law or higher goods. The resulting view is considered supremely rational and humane, so that there must be something wrong with people who reject it. It tells us that people should get what they want as much and as equally as possible, so those who reject it must either want special advantages, so they’re greedy, or they simply want to keep others from getting something, so they’re malicious. There are no other possibilities in a world in which no higher goods or natural orderings can publicly be taken into account.

This means problems for the Church. It’s natural for those who accept it to credit any number of anti-Catholic Black Legends: religion, moral tradition, and even the concept of human nature make no sense, so they’re oppressive, against reason, opposed to science, a mask for the will to power, and so on. So ingrained have such views become, and so closely connected to principles now treated as fundamental to any reasonable social order, that people become simply unable to assimilate evidence to the contrary. If you tell them that the French Revolution was far bloodier than the Spanish Inquisition, and far less concerned with justice, they won’t know what to make of it, and however good your arguments they just won’t stick.

In recent decades the Church has nonetheless emphasized a form of outreach that uses the language and appeals to the concerns and understandings current in public discussion, for example by speaking the language of “human rights.” The intent was good: Paul became “all things to all men that [he] might save all,” and it seemed reasonable for today’s Christians to do the same. Despite the good intentions, the initiative has led to serious problems. One is that the emphasis on speaking to modern man using modern language has meant far less emphasis on speaking Catholic language to Catholics. The result has been pastoral catastrophe in catechesis, the liturgy, and the understanding of the faith.

A more basic problem is that Paul was speaking natural language and appealing to natural concerns. Grace completes nature, so the conversation could soon turn to Christ. He would not have been so successful if he had been speaking the language of economists, marketing experts, and academic ethicists to bureaucrats. Technocratic society is defined by human will and know-how to the exclusion of all else. Grace cannot enter it without making it something other than what it is, so we will get nowhere trying to join the public discussion by sounding like today’s pundits, politicians, and policymakers. Rather than appeal to their way of thinking, we must use our own language and speak from the heart, from our own tradition, and from the continuing realities of life as human beings actually experience it. Only in that way will we be able to touch lives and realities.

Editor’s note: This column first appeared April 7, 2014 in Catholic World Report and is reprinted with permission. The image above titled “The Apostle Paul Preaching on the Ruins” was painted by Giovanni Paulo Pannini in 1744.

James Kalb

By

James Kalb is a lawyer, independent scholar, and Catholic convert who lives in Brooklyn, New York. He is the author of The Tyranny of Liberalism: Understanding and Overcoming Administered Freedom, Inquisitorial Tolerance, and Equality by Command (ISI Books, 2008), and, most recently, Against Inclusiveness: How the Diversity Regime is Flattening America and the West and What to Do About It (Angelico Press, 2013).

  • Mack

    The politically-charged title doesn’t connect with the excellent essay in any way.

  • Ciarán Ó Coigligh

    Thank you Mr Kalb for a most insightful critique of the difficulties facing committed Catholic in entering discussion in the public square. Here in Ireland many have ceded to their opponents not only the right to decide the perameters of debate but even to decide the vocabulary. In my own experience as a professor in a Catholic College of Education and Liberal Arts objection to this capitulation is met with the response that one must speak the language of the paymaster. In this instance, the Higher Education Authority, the Department of Education and Skills, and the Govermnent. I wish you to know that the publication of your considered views on these matters is a great encouragement to me and no doubt many others.

  • Vinnie

    “It tells us that people should get what they want as much and as equally as possible, so those who reject it must either want special advantages, so they’re greedy, or they simply want to keep others from getting something, so they’re malicious. There are no other possibilities in a world in which no higher goods or natural orderings can publicly be taken into account.”….

    “Rather than appeal to their way of thinking, we must use our own language and speak from the heart, from our own tradition, and from the continuing realities of life as human beings actually experience it. Only in that way will we be able to touch lives and realities.”

    We must witness in all we do as actions speak louder than words.

  • “trying to persuade a group of hunter-gatherers that they should go on a march to protest fat-shaming.”… Arguing with windmills and a culture designed to make people sheep as early as possible.

  • ForChristAlone

    Catholics are experiencing a serious identity crisis vis a vis the larger secular society. We so desperately want to “belong” and “approved of” that we no longer know who we are and what purposes we serve. Who are we?

    • Watosh

      An accurate observation.

    • goldushapple

      I disagree with the “desperately want to belong and approved” part. It’s that Catholics are facing a more secular society filled with people who have impressions of religion and Catholicism that are caricatures of the actual reality.

  • Tyler

    Too much pessimism perhaps? There is much evidence to suggest that today’s teens are not only more responsible about sexual matters than their parents were at the same age, but that they may well be more responsible than their parents are now! Something is getting through to these kids. Being tolerant is not the same as being amoral, as Pope Francis is demonstrating. We can encounter people with different beliefs and experiences in love and charity yet without sacrificing the integrity of our own beliefs. And the Catholic church in this country is growing — mostly due to Hispanic immigrants, but perhaps also because of the appealing spirit and message of our new pope.

    • Guest

      Huh?

      • TheAbaum

        Ditto.

    • Thomas

      “There is much evidence to suggest that today’s teens are not only more
      responsible about sexual matters than their parents were at the same
      age, but that they may well be more responsible than their parents are
      now!”

      I have spent over thirty years working with teenagers. Today, they talk about the girls “cashing in their v-cards”; oral sex is a safe alternative to intercourse–and, let’s not fail to mention that young females are all too eager to expose themselves to, and perform oral sex in the snap of a finger on, young men. It is no small thing that parents today say that the times have been reversed, and parents need to protect their SONS’ chastity from today’s generation of young females.

      Please show me the “evidence” that today’s kids are “more responsible” in sexual matters.

      • Tyler

        For those of you above who have asked, here is one of the articles I have recently read that supports the notion that teens are becoming more sexually responsible:
        http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2014/03/25/golden-age-teen-sexual-responsibilty/
        It includes such information (with links) that claims that the percentage of sexually active high school students has been dropping for 20 years. We also know that abortion rates are at their lowest since Roe v. Wade was passed, and that teen pregnancy rates have declined steadily over the past 20 years (http://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/adolescent-health-topics/reproductive-health/teen-pregnancy/trends.html .)

        This is all good news and we can be proud of our young people.

        • Guest

          You are too funny. Thanks for the Planned Parenthood propaganda. No one here is buying.

        • pensulo

          Tyler, thank you for attempting to put some facts into this comment board. Unfortunately, very few have the courage to examine evidence. Evidence might cause one to revise beliefs and understanding. I predict that some commenters will now create ad hominem attacks on you as person, Watch & read….

          • Guest

            Facts? You mean propaganda.

        • James

          Tyler, nobody wants you to come in here with facts to tell them that it isn’t raining on their parade.

          How many people do pessimistic, gloom and doom conservatives drive away from the Church? St. Teresa of Avila once said, “a sad nun is a bad nun”. Christianity is a religion of hope, not of pessimism. To obsess with death and decay and corruption is a sign of spiritual sickness.

          • Guest

            The only obsession is with those who are liberal Pharisees. Those who would lead others astray with their false teachings.

            • James

              Not quite sure how saying that both abortion and teen pregnancy rates are down is leading anyone astray.

              • Guest

                Not sure why PP statistics are valid?

                • James

                  The numbers aren’t just from Guttmacher, but the CDC and independent research.

                  Do you have any better numbers? Any reason to doubt the methodology? The reports are published, please show me where they are wrong.

                  If you just don’t like Guttmacher, then you have no more than an ad hominem attack.

                  • Guest

                    Propaganda is not research. If you are credulous that is your issue not ours.

                    • James

                      You do know that judging information by the person or group who provides it is a logical fallacy, don’t you?

                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem

                    • Guest

                      You do know the PP is a propaganda organization? That is your standard? For you that is fine, for us we will take authentic standards.

                      The only true fallacy here is attempting to to use propaganda as some type of legitimate metric.

                      You are too funny.

                    • James

                      “Authentic standards” You keep using that term. I do not think it means what you think it means.

                      Guttmacher published their numbers. They explained how they got their numbers. Everything is documented. If Guttmacher’s numbers are wrong, then please explain why they are wrong. Was their sample size inaccurate? Are they missing data?

                      Do you have conflicting data? Do you have data that shows that the abortion rate is going up or teen pregnancy rate is going up? If so, can you show why this data is more accurate than Guttmacher’s? THOSE are authentic standards.

                      Otherwise, you are making a fallacious argument.

                      Scientifically illiterate Christians who engage in fallacious reasoning are a source of scandal.

                    • Guest

                      Scandal is when faux Catholics spread propaganda. Glad to hear you value PP as a legitimate resource. It reveals your agenda.

                  • musicacre

                    You haven’t’ given any numbers; look to where I quoted the CDC regarding the HUGE surge in STD’s. Not to mention the end result, female sterility. All of this costs the US health care system billions of dollars!(Every year.) Guttmacher is not independent, but an arm of Planned Parenthood.

              • musicacre

                Both those statements are inaccurate, and vague, (possibly out of your head?) and definitely mislead vulnerable people astray!

        • redfish

          Teen pregnancy has generally been in decline since the 50s, its a red herring as an issue. Unwed teen pregnancy has been increasing, though. So that means most teen pregnancy in in the 50s either took place in the context of marriage, or marriage soon followed. “Teen pregnancy” rates are also a huge category that ends with age 20, and most of it happens after age 18. High school was never the issue. Most sexual activity starts at college age; that’s what people need to analyze. Part of the reason abortion rates are down is because of things like morning after pills.

          Not everything is bad, and people do overestimate the problems with the younger generation. A lot of young people are relatively conservative about sex. But that article is rosy and deals with a lot of red herring issues, instead of real issues. The hookup culture on colleges is really bad, and the expectation of having sex combining with binge drinking leads to rapes. Less fathers are supporting women who get pregnant.

          Tolerance towards liberal behavior isn’t so much the problem as intolerance towards conservative attitudes — which are attacked as prudish, even if they aren’t. Kids who are conservative — and many are — try to keep their integrity, but over time, cultural expectations and peer pressure get to many of them.

        • Tony

          Excuse me, but the Church is not interested in supposed “sexual responsibility.” She is interested in continence, purity, chastity, charity, and plenty of thriving marriages.
          I do not see among young people the kind of happy flirtatiousness that is the prelude to courtship and marriage. Most people in their twenties are now single, and don’t tell me that it has to do with money, because we all had grandparents and great-grandparents who had a lot less, and yet who married.
          It may be that a lot of the kids are not having sex, BUT much of that is attributable not to chastity or to a healthy commitment to getting married, but to on-line porn. A friend of mine, a Baptist minister who counsels married couples all the time, says that it’s common for him to meet young couples with problems in the bed — SHE is the one complaining, because he doesn’t seem interested. Utterly amazing. Porn is at the back of it, all the time. Another minister I know told me that he no longer asks men and boys whether they have a porn problem, but where they are in their struggle to get rid of it from their lives.
          Here are the “statistics” I need to see:
          Percentage of young people attempting to be chaste;
          Percentage of young people married;
          Percentage of children born within wedlock;
          Percentage of marriages that do not (not HAVE not, yet, but that never do) end in divorce;
          Percentage of people who USE NO PORN;
          Number of children per marriage.

          • musicacre

            Tony I love reading all the stuff you write, but you really can’t compare Protestant sexual morality to Catholic. After being involved with the Pro-life movement for decades (and homeschooling) we have come to know alot of Protestants, and even “believing” faithful ones don’t see that their sexual behavior has anything to do with religion . It’s all personal, (as though they invented marriage,) they make it up as they go.

            • Tony

              True enough, but I’m seeing movement among Bible-believing Protestants back towards Catholic positions on contraception and divorce…

              • musicacre

                Don’t get me wrong, I’ve actually known some families (Protestant) that are living a more praiseworthy Catholic life than Catholics in alot of ways. Two that I know from homeschooling each have 8 children and are very old-fashioned and wise. But I mean they have no leadership on this. I have neighbors that called themselves Christian and both husbands were into sneaking peaks at whatever smut they had at the time. Both marriages failed. We live in a neighborhood of failed marriages. When we moved here a quarter century ago as newly-weds, they were all together and happy. They want to be “free” to indulge in whatever behavior without an authority defining it as evil, and you always see the consequences later. One couple that had a leadership role for years in this baptist community came to understand that the pill was wrong.They regretted using if for previous years. They really believed and understood why and how it was wrong. (Spiritually, physically, mentally.) Yet they still thought it might be OK for some of their other friends….? I don’t see how they have this mental block that morality is so subjective. Didn’t we all read the same “Bible stories” when we were young?

      • TheAbaum

        “young females are all too eager to expose themselves to, and perform oral sex in the snap of a finger on, young men.”

        And the real epidemic of sexual abuse is young female teachers trolling their classrooms for young males. But as we know, this is not a problem because the NEA is part of the education government complex, so we’ll never have a Survivors’ Network Abused by Teachers group.

        “teacher+charged+with+sexual+abuse” produced 222,000 hits on google.

        • Thomas

          Epidemic, indeed.

          It would be better for them (abusers) to wear a millstone around their necks and fall into the ocean than to harm any of these “little ones.”

      • James

        News Flash: Young people talk a bigger game than they act. Sex is everywhere and kids talk about it. But odds are a significant amount of that talk is just talk.

        Statistics don’t lie—Abortion rate is down. Teen pregnancy rate is down. STD rates among women are down. (Overall they have gone up, but this is due to significant increases in STD infections among gay men.) The statistics show that young people aren’t having the same kind of risky sex now that they were before.

        • Thomas

          Risky sex: please define.

          Is it true that kids do not consider oral sex to be risky or conducive to spreading diseases?

          • Thomas

            I am the father of three teen-agers. I know what happens when the kids get together; not just my kids, but also what they tell me about what goes on outside of their circle.

            This is not just talk.

            Also, while the 70’s were pretty bad, the kids today do far more than that generation.

            With all due respect, I think the “facts” that you and Tyler are sharing might be skewed.

            P.S. Many of us here subscribe to what the Catholic Church teaches about “happiness.” You can read St. Ignatius on this. Nowhere will we find true happiness except in the creator. You imply that the “sad nun” might be more cheerful with a little sex, perhaps? A little less dogma? It might be the sad nun needs the Spiritual Exercises.

            I will file your comment with Tyler’s in the “Popularize Catholicism” or the Catholic Public Relations file.

            • James

              “You imply that the “sad nun” might be more cheerful with a little sex, perhaps?”

              I neither said nor implied anything of the sort. But that accusation speaks volumes about you, sir.

        • musicacre

          Don’t know where you got your “news flash”, James.
          “STD rates among women are down”.

          Hers’s a flash from HeatlhyPeople.gov.

          “Why Is Sexually Transmitted Disease Prevention Important?
          Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there are approximately 19 million new STD infections each year-almost half of them among young people ages 15-24. The cost of STD’s to the U.S. health care system is estimated to be as much as $15.9 billion annually.

          CDC estimates that undiagnosed and untreated STD’s cause at least 24,000 women in the United States each years to become infertile.”

          So…where did you get your stats?

        • goldushapple

          You’re right young people talk a bigger game than they act. They talk a lot and don’t understand most of the concepts that come out of their mouths.

          But here’s something from one of the young people (me): We’ll make excuses for anything in order to justify – if we feel so – our actions.

    • mikidiki

      Could you define “the appealing spirit and message of our new pope”? And itemise the evidence that today’s teens are more responsible about sexual matters than their parents?
      Truly, I am intrigued!

      • Tyler

        Hello mikidiki. Pope Francis’s appeal is astounding, as evinced by his sky-high approval ratings. This can only mean good things for Catholicism. Francis reaches out to the better angels of all of our natures with his simplicity, his rejection of the material trappings of his office, his sincerity, and his genuine kindness and good will. Cardinal Dolan describe’s Francis’s appeal better than I could when he says, “People in general are on the side of virtue and goodness, and everything that’s noble and decent in the human person. And when you see somebody like Pope Francis that can tap into that and just seem to emanate that, and call that forth from everybody, people are going to take a second look at religion and say, ‘Wow, maybe belief is worth it.'”

        • Thomas

          Do you make your living as a salesman?

          Any notion that the Church must be democratic, and that what it teaches must be palatable to the masses, is purely and humanly flawed.

          Wow! I think I will become a Catholic when I hear the Pope telling me what I want to hear.

          Take a second look? What did Jesus say?

          The road to heaven–salvation–is going to be quite narrow.

          • TheAbaum

            Motivational speaker.

          • pensulo

            and here it is, the predictable ad hominem attack from reader “Thomas”

            • Thomas

              And some dissenters are full of cliches. To them, any defense or elucidation of Catholicism is ad hominem.

            • TheAbaum

              Uh, that wasn’t an “ad hominem”.

              “argumentum ad hominem, is a general category of fallacies in which a claim or argument is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact”

              There was no assertion that the argument be rejected, it was an implicit, but clear comment on a certain glibness in the Tyler’s rose-colored glasses view of sexual morality.

              • pensulo

                Perhaps you are correct. When I re-read the post, Tyler was focused on the Pope, with enthusiasm. Thomas tries to undercut him by asking him if he is a salesman by trade, implying that we don’t need none of your stinking enthusiasm here. Tyler says that the Pope may cause people to take a second look at belief. Thomas argues that the pope is turning the church into a democracy of some kind.

                I don’t see a *direct) request to reject Tyler’s point of view. Still, I suspect that Doubting Thomas ain’t buying into what Tyler & the Pope are selling.

                • TheAbaum

                  “Still, I suspect that Doubting Thomas ain’t buying into what Tyler & the Pope are selling.”

                  I’m not at all sure the Pope and Tyler are “selling” the same thing. Anybody who thinks popularity matters betrays a certain immaturity.

                • Thomas

                  “Thomas argues that the pope is turning the church into a democracy.”

                  Wrong.

                  Thomas argues that some people think the Church is a democracy. Some people also arrogantly believe that WE know better than the Spirit of God, and that this same Spirit does not guide the Holy Catholic Church. Perhaps they still cling to the Galileo affair. They imply that Christ was a liar, and thereby, blaspheme the Holy Spirit. In the process they do greater damage to mankind.

                  Does Thomas refuse to buy what the Pope is selling?

                  Hardly.

                  Like the Pope, Thomas is a son of the Church who fully accepts what She teaches. He also realizes that compassion for people and recognizing his own sinfulness is not a valid reason for discounting or rejecting that which is from above. Still, I find it odd that somebody who thinks the RCC is full of superstition would really care about a) the Pope, b) Tyler, or c) the comment boxes herein.

        • TheAbaum

          “Pope Francis’s appeal is astounding, as evinced by his sky-high approval ratings.”

          Five or six years ago, people said that about Obama. Popularity is meaningless and fleeting, even for a politician, even less so for a Pope or prelate.

        • mikidiki

          Thank you so much for defining the new pope’s “astounding appeal”; now, with respect, what about answering my second query?

        • Rita

          How utterly beautiful! Thank you.

        • Watosh

          The thing about Pope Francis’s current sky-high approval rating, it appears that the world has embraced Pope Francis. I recall the whole world mourned the passing of JPII, and sang his praises too. I always wondered about this as I recall Christ telling his apostles, and I paraphrase, if the world hated me, you can expect to be hated too. The world is anti-catholic on the whole, and many influential groups are virulently anti-orthodox Catholics, so when I hear the world heap praise on some Pope it worries me.

          I am reminded of a story I read long, long ago in a history of the Roman Empire,written by Livy or maybe Pliny, but I forget it was so long ago, anyway it seemed there was this old Roman Senator, I forget his name, a rather crusty character, who was giving a speech before a crowd, maybe it was the Roman Senate, when he suddenly paused during his speech and said to himself, “They’re applauding me! I must be saying something wrong.” I forget the details, but I never forgot the story as I felt I knew him.

          • Thomas

            Jesus said, “The world will hate you.” Hence, when the world speeds towards secularism, or even towards more “hip” Christianity, I run full speed in the opposite direction. I have no doubt that Jesus intended the Catholic Church to be the Ark of Salvation, and any worldly attacks upon Her more fully substantiate what Jesus said.
            Now that is utterly beautiful. Thank you, Lord Jesus!

          • fredx2

            Trust me, when JP II was alive, abuse was heaped on him non-stop. “Medieval” “He is ruining the church” “Authoritarian”. etc. etc.

    • Art Deco

      There is much evidence to suggest that today’s teens are not only more
      responsible about sexual matters than their parents were at the same
      age, but that they may well be more responsible than their parents are
      now!

      Which is why the illegitimacy rate keeps climbing.

  • TheAbaum

    “It seems that Catholics have been getting nowhere in the public square lately. ”

    It seems FAITHFUL Catholics have been getting nowhere lately. The CINOS have been doing fine. Biden, Cuomo, Pelosi, Sebelius, they’ve done quite well using the temple arts to fashion a new god for us to obey in supine fealty.

    • Richard Moorton

      One of the great problems is that CINO’s fill the pews. Technically, most communions are bad communions. Priests don’t dare teach on modesty, homosexuality, contraception, and much more, or the “faithful” will stampede out, revenue will drop through the floor, and the bishop will come down on the padre like an IRS auditor. I almost fell out of my chair when I read some time ago that the Pope had looked to the laity to evangelize the world and straighten out their local diocese. No doubt there is plenty of room for correction, but the laity in most congregations are shaky reformers, at best. This is not to say that the saintly and ruggedly faithful are absent, but they are not the majority.

      Sunday’s Easter mass should have been a time of spiritual jubilation for me. Instead, I was saddened and depressed by chatting parishioners in the pews, to say nothing of girls with hemlines closer to their crotches than their knees. It looked like a prostitutes’ convention. My soul is as maculate as any (not hyperbole), but at least I am ashamed. This is no way to treat God.

      If I keep going to mass I may lose my faith. Is that what Jesus intended?

      Pessimistically,

      Richard

      • Thomas

        The Church has always been a hospital for the worst of us, so I feel I must be careful in my agreement with you about the “riff-raff” that sometimes is present in today’s celebration of the Mass. While the Church herself is indeed such a hospital, I don’t think Holy Mass need be the hospital. The operating room, perhaps.

        So, if I might speculate for a moment, I suppose long ago people of all different levels of education and financial success attended Mass together. What was the difference between then and now? Unity? Reverence for God? Knowledge of the Catholic faith? Perhaps so.

        It’s tough some times when you can’t even concentrate on your prayers while people all around are having conversations before the beginning of Mass. I get angry, but I think of Jesus saying that I could pray privately in my room. Still, I remember, fondly, what Mass was like before 1965. Nostalgia.

      • TheAbaum

        “Sunday’s Easter mass should have been a time of spiritual jubilation for me. Instead, I was saddened and depressed by chatting parishioners in the pews, to say nothing of girls with hemlines closer to their crotches than their knees. It looked like a prostitutes’ convention.”

        Don’t go to the “easy” Masses (Noon), for Christmas or Easter. Go at 7AM. Holly-Lillies rarely get up early and they are trying to maximize the number of those observing their biennial appearances. You’ll find more piety and prayer then.

      • musicacre

        You’ll never find “chatting parishioners in the pews” at the EF (Latin) mass. At least there, is the understanding and corresponding awe that God is present. If you check it out, there is an increasing number of these masses as people get more turned off to the superficial atmospheres that is all too common in the Novus Ordo masses.

        • jacobhalo

          You are correct. You can hear a in drop before and after mass at an EF mass, and we have a ton of young people.

          • musicacre

            I know you meant “pin”; I’ve noticed that too. The beauty and the depth pulls one into another world…as it should!

      • mikidiki

        The only way I can tolerate the NO Mass in a ‘Nice’ Parish is to treat it as a penance for my past sins; otherwise I would agree that attendance in a service embedded in heresies is a deadly threat to my Catholic Faith.

        • Richard Moorton

          Mikidiki,

          Wise words. Thanks. I can use all of the penitential accumulation I can get. It is doubtful that many of the people I fret over have scrolls more charged than mine.

      • Shawn McElhinney

        [One of the great problems is that CINO’s fill the pews.]

        This is probably true in many cases but remember, Elijah in his day thought he was the only one left whereas God told him of thousands of others in Israel who had not bent the knee to Baal (cf. 1 Kings xix,14-19). In other words, there are a lot of things you cannot see.

        [Technically, most communions are bad communions.]

        And you know this exactly how? Answer: you do not.

        [Priests don’t dare teach on modesty, homosexuality, contraception, and much more, or the “faithful” will stampede out, revenue will drop through the floor, and the bishop will come down on the padre like an IRS auditor.]

        Aaaah so they do not speak enough on the things that are important to *you* is that what you are saying? I always find it interesting that folks who complain like this always do so about things that they do not struggle with but if the shoe was on the other foot, it would be a different story. (In other words, I am sure there are matters pertaining to the faith that they could speak on that would cause you and your ilk to stampede out as well.) As for the specific areas you mentioned, modesty is often badly misunderstood even by those who claim it should be spoken about often and as for homosexuality and contraception? Well, the spiritual masters of the Catholic tradition were usually pretty firm on the idea that areas of greater delicacy were to be handled with prudence and discretion. To quote from an old eighteenth century work of spiritual instruction on these sorts of matters:

        “In every home there grows some thorn, something, in other words, that needs correction; for the best soil is seldom without its noxious weed. Imprudent zeal, by seeking awkwardly to pluck out the thorn, often succeeds only in plunging it farther in, thus rendering the wound deeper and more painful. In such a case it is essential to act prudence. There is a time to speak and a time to be silent, says the Holy Spirit. (Ecclesiastes III., 7.) Prudent zeal is silent when it realizes that to be so is less hurtful than to speak.” [Fr. R.P. Quadrupani: Light and Peace – Instructions for Devout Souls to Dispel Their Doubts and Allay Their Fears (c. 1795)]

        You would so well to take these matters into greater account. Frequent haranging on delicate issues from the pulpit is *not* the most productive way to reach people and however much it would make you feel better if this were to happen.

        [I almost fell out of my chair when I read some time ago that the Pope had looked to the laity to evangelize the world and straighten out their local diocese. No doubt there is plenty of room for correction, but the laity in most congregations are shaky reformers, at best. This is not to say that the saintly and ruggedly faithful are absent, but they are not the majority.]

        Historically there was no schism or heresy that ever took its start from the laity and there was no movement for reform that ever started with the clergy. Pope Francis knows his history on these matters and you obviously do not.

        [Sunday’s Easter mass should have been a time of spiritual jubilation for me.]

        Yes it should have. If it was not then that is your fault and nobody else’s.

        [Instead, I was saddened and depressed by chatting parishioners in the pews, to say nothing of girls with hemlines closer to their crotches than their knees. It looked like a prostitutes’ convention.]

        Gee it sounds like a lot of the things that the Fathers of the Church used to complain about with parishioners in their day and not a few writers in subsequent ages did likewise. Nothing is new under the sun as The Preacher noted in Ecclesiastes.

        [My soul is as maculate as any (not hyperbole), but at least I am ashamed.]

        See my previous comments.

        [This is no way to treat God.]

        “I thank thee Lord that I am not like other men, sinners, prostitutes, mindless drones who babble in church and dress abhorrently, etc.” Gee, you know who you sound like?

        “To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” [Luke xviii,9-14]

        When you spend your time in church acting like the Pharisee than the publican (tax collector) from Luke’s Gospel, that does not bode well for you at all.

        [If I keep going to mass I may lose my faith. Is that what Jesus intended?]

        I would suggest you are in serious need of spiritual instruction. I would recommend Fr. Quadrupani’s work Light and Peace as a good resource for you. Another would be St. John of the Cross’ masterpiece Dark Night of the Soul.

        • Richard Moorton

          Shawn,

          Since you see fit to attack me personally and at length, I feel it incumbent upon me to respond.

          1. Cino’s. Since you admit that Cino’s probably do often fill the pews, you are conceding my point at the outset. I cannot read hearts but I can see. I was amazed when I began to attend a parish where the priest and I had a good rapport at how the percentage of mass goers who received communion always approached 100% but that weekly confessions only added up to three or four, on average. I told the priest that this made sense if the parishioners were morally exceptional, to which he emphatically replied “They’re Not!). At another church the homilist said that many parishioners explained their infrequent confessions by saying “Father, I don’t have anything to confess.” At this the priest began to hold up his hands and bow repeatedly, saying sarcastically, “Holy! Holy!”

          2. You challenge my statement that technically most communions are bad communions. Well, let’s consult evidence and probability. A Gallup poll released on May 22 2012 reported that

          82% of Catholics believe that contraception is o.k. (the link is exceptionally long: google it).

          Do the math.

          3. “Aaah so they [priests] do not speak about things [sexual matters] that are important to “you”.” Yes they are. And should be. If you take the locutions of Mary at Fatima seriously, she said that most people who are damned fall because of sexual sins. Your shrewd inference that I am complaining about something to which I am not susceptible is exactly, totally wrong. As for Catholic authors calling for prudence and delicacy are called for in such matters, I reply that a. My point was highly germane to the discussion, and b. Paul called upon Christians to recognize that their bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. Modesty is critically important, though in fact many of those who seem to violate it are clueless. The culture has corrupted moral sensibilities, and that is also a matter worthy of note. I think this is a time to speak. If priests do not catechize, the ignorance of the faithful will continue. It may anyway, but the pastors must call the sheep.

          4. On the laity as evangelizers: “Historically there are no schisms or heresy that ever took its start from the laity.” Whether or not this is true is irrelevant. Heresies and schisms have often been given real strength and momentum by laity with unorthodox views. We have plenty of that now.

          5. If Easter was not a time of spiritual jubilation, “that is your fault and no one else’s.” I think rather that it was a team effort. I remember that Saint Francis once wandered desolately through the streets saying in profound sadness “Love is not loved!” Yes, seeing behavior in church that seems to me to indicate that people really don’t know where they are, in the presence of the Living God, depresses me.

          6. If it was right for the Fathers of the Church and writers in subsequent times to complain about parishioners for behavior like that visible now, then I am in excellent company.

          7. When I admit that I too am a sinner, you refer me to your previous comments in which I find no illumination for my melancholy. Not only that, but in subsequent commentary you accuse me of being a Pharisee. Jesus faults the Pharisee in company with a repentant publican for denying that he has the faults of other men. I do not. Furthermore, Jesus did not criticize the teaching of the Pharisees, since “They sit in the throne of Moses,” but not to do what they do, because they are hypocrites. I go to church not to be seen but because I need it. Like the publican.

          8. As for your sarcastic judgment that if observing unfaithful observance (whether intentional or not) is hard on my faith, then I am in serious need of spiritual instruction. I think we all are, always, but I will say that I am spiritually literate, I have taught RCIA at two parishes for years and the priests and deacons who knew my work professed themselves pleased. While I don’t know Quadrupani’s work, I have read St. Augustine, Theresa of Avila, Catherine of Sienna, Julian of Norwich, Catherine of Genoa, Sister Faustina, Thomas a Kempis, the scriptures of course, and many other spiritual masters in extenso. As a Classicist I can read Latin and Greek, and hence can read the Septuagint and the New Testament in the original. As for John of the Cross, not only have I read Dark Night of the Soul but all of John of the Cross carefully and lovingly. I have known spiritual ecstacy only a few times, but when the light of this great mystic finally broke into my mind (this was in my sixties–I had tried John several times before but simply not been ready) I reached my personal peak. I write this obnoxious catalog only to document that I am not an ingenue. One can never receive enough spiritual instruction. De te fabula narratur.

          • Shawn McElhinney

            [Shawn,]

            Good morning Richard!

            [Since you see fit to attack me personally and at length, I feel it incumbent upon me to respond.]

            Yes I decided to respond to your whine fest (would you like some cheese with that?). Tell me how public bitching is in ANY way edifying for anyone!

            [I cannot read hearts but I can see.]

            My point was/is, there are both objective and subjective factors involved here and you are not privy to the latter with anyone. As I said previously, there are a lot of things you cannot see.

            [I was amazed when I began to attend a parish where the priest and I had a good rapport at how the percentage of mass goers who received communion always approached 100% but that weekly confessions only added up to three or four, on average.]

            Does the priest preach on the importance of confession as something that should be a regular occurrence for those who would approach the Eucharist?

            [I told the priest that this made sense if the parishioners were morally exceptional, to which he emphatically replied “They’re Not!).]

            Has that priest bothered to preach on the importance of making confession regularly for those who partake of the Eucharist?

            [At another church the homilist said that many parishioners explained their infrequent confessions by saying “Father, I don’t have anything to confess.” At this the priest began to hold up his hands and bow repeatedly, saying sarcastically, “Holy! Holy!”]

            See my previous comments. I do not see what good comes from that kind of sarcasm. There are a lot of folks whose understanding of sin is flawed. We have gone from those whose understanding of sin was so warped that they thought every sneeze and hiccup was a potential mortal sin (read: before Vatican II) to an attitude that basically nothing they do is a sin or warrants going to confession (read: after Vatican II). One distorted warped view countered by another opposite distorted view. And just as laxism was not the answer to yesterdays rigorism, rigorism now is not the answer to todays laxism.

            [2. You challenge my statement that technically most communions are bad communions. Well, let’s consult evidence and probability. A Gallup poll released on May 22 2012 reported that

            82% of Catholics believe that contraception is o.k. (the link is exceptionally long: google it).

            Do the math.]

            There is no reason to do any math and you miss the point yet again. There are objective and subjective factors that go into mortal sin. Not every objectionably grave act is automatically mortally sinful.

            [“Aaah so they [priests] do not speak about things [sexual matters] that are important to “you”.” Yes they are. And should be. If you take the locutions of Mary at Fatima seriously,she said that most people who are damned fall because of sexual sins.]

            Sigh, Robert, the Church has long taught that you cannot use private revelations to settle any questions pertaining to philosophy, theology, history, or anything else. For more on this matter, see this short article:

            http://catholiclane.com/catholics-and-private-revelation-part-ii-the-voice-of-tradition/

            I am generally not one to spend much time promoting my own work but as that article addressed an issue that is often misunderstood, I hope my making an exception there is not too self-promoting.

            [Your shrewd inference that I am complaining about something to which I am not susceptible is exactly, totally wrong.]

            As your recourse to a private revelation to try and settle a question pertaining to theology is a method that the Church does not approve of, your conclusion from this faulty methodology falls apart.

            [As for Catholic authors calling for prudence and delicacy are called for in such matters, I reply that a. My point was highly germane to the discussion, and b. Paul called upon Christians to recognize that their bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.]

            St. Paul also counseled that one should be careful in how they controversial behavior for the sake of the “weaker brethren” (1Cor viii,9-13, Romans xiv,13ff).

            [Modesty is critically important, though in fact many of those who seem to violate it are clueless. The culture has corrupted moral sensibilities, and that is also a matter worthy of note. I think this is a time to speak.]

            Again, these are matters to be handled with great prudence. The Vatican has always counseled this on more delicate matters (particularly when issuing instructions to priests on how to approach the confessional) and it is not without reason: the deeper the wound, the more damage can be done by those who stumble clumsily in attempting to rectify it.

            [If priests do not catechize, the ignorance of the faithful will continue. It may anyway, but the pastors must call the sheep.]

            I do not disagree with you here in principle. The issue is how is the catechesis best undertaken in order to bear fruit. Taking a heavy-handed approach and then complaining when your efforts bear no fruit is hardly advisable and at that point, the damage has already been done by you despite having the best of intentions otherwise. St. Paul had to learn this the hard way in his own evangelization efforts as his letter and Luke’s chronology in Acts amply attest to. We would do well to learn from his experiences on this as well and apply the lessons in our own endeavours in these areas.

            [On the laity as evangelizers: “Historically there are no schisms or heresy that ever took its start from the laity.” Whether or not this is true is irrelevant. Heresies and schisms have often been given real strength and momentum by laity with unorthodox views. We have plenty of that now.]

            It is not irrelevant at all. Reform movements have historically never started with the clergy but have always been from the bottom up. By the time the clergy gets on board a movement of reform has usually been gathering steam for a long time. Things are hardly any different today and that was my point: genuine reform starts at the bottom.

            Furthermore, evangelization is most effective in deeds rather than words. Not to say the latter are unimportant but deeds are more so. Or in words attributed to St. Francis of Assisi “preach the Gospel at all times, when necessary use words.”

            [If Easter was not a time of spiritual jubilation, “that is your fault and no one else’s.” I think rather that it was a team effort. I remember that Saint Francis once wandered desolately through the streets saying in profound sadness “Love is not loved!” Yes, seeing behavior in church that seems to me to indicate that people really don’t know where they are, in the presence of the Living God, depresses me.]

            Your focus at church should be on yourself: be the publican humbly beseeching God to forgive you for your sins and pray for other people. Your original comment came off very Pharisaical and we have far too many Pharisees and not enough publicans today. Or in the words of Thomas a Kempis:

            “TURN your attention upon yourself and beware of judging the deeds of other men, for in judging others a man labors vainly, often makes mistakes, and easily sins; whereas, in judging and taking stock of himself he does something that is always profitable.”

            [If it was right for the Fathers of the Church and writers in subsequent times to complain about parishioners for behavior like that visible now, then I am in excellent company.]

            My point is that human nature is what it is and you are not seeing anything today that has not been seen before. Jesus’ reference to people as sheep is hardly the lovely image that sugary sickening Catholic piety loved to paint on holy cards in eras past but instead was one better understood by those who used to work the land. Namely, sheep are very stupid. They can know what is the right thing to do and they still do the wrong thing and often. This is due to our fallen natures of course but the problem applies to all of us. Just because you do not dress inappropriately at mass or strive to receive the Eucharist worthily does not mean you are not a dumb sheep too. The difference is your dumb sheepness is just in different areas than those at church you refer to.

            [When I admit that I too am a sinner, you refer me to your previous comments in which I find no illumination for my melancholy. Not only that, but in subsequent commentary you accuse me of being a Pharisee. Jesus faults the Pharisee in company with a repentant publican for denying that he has the faults of other men. I do not]

            Your previous comment was filled with complaining about the faults and flaws of others. How is this any different in substance than what the Pharisee in the temple did?

            [Furthermore, Jesus did not criticize the teaching of the Pharisees, since “They sit in the throne of Moses,” but not to do what they do, because they are hypocrites. I go to church not to be seen but because I need it. Like the publican.]

            But evidently you spend your time there taking in the more visual faults and flaws of many others rather than focusing on yourself and remembering that we are all sinners albeit not in the same things.

            [As for your sarcastic judgment that if observing unfaithful observance (whether intentional or not) is hard on my faith, then I am in serious need of spiritual instruction.]

            I notice that you have made the presumption that what I wrote previously was “an attack” on you, that something else I said was “sarcastic”, etc. all of this proves my point. I will touch on it again in a moment.

            [I think we all are, always, but I will say that I am spiritually literate, I have taught RCIA at two parishes for years and the priests and deacons who knew my work professed themselves pleased. While I don’t know Quadrupani’s work, I have read St. Augustine, Theresa of Avila, Catherine of Sienna, Julian of Norwich, Catherine of Genoa, Sister Faustina, Thomas a Kempis, the scriptures of course, and many other spiritual masters in extenso.]

            To read your previous complaining, it would not give any indication of such reading on your part.

            [As a Classicist I can read Latin and Greek, and hence can read the Septuagint and the New Testament in the original. As for John of the Cross, not only have I read Dark Night of the Soul but all of John of the Cross carefully and lovingly. I have known spiritual ecstacy only a few times, but when the light of this great mystic finally broke into my mind (this was in my sixties–I had tried John several times before but simply not been ready) I reached my personal peak. I write this obnoxious catalog only to document that I am not an ingenue.]

            As I said previously, your prior comments did not give any hint of such reading on your part. And your imputing to me motives of judgment and sarcasm does not come off as one who would know from the spiritual writers that one should not put unfavourable interpretations onto the words and actions of another:

            “Always be ready and willing to excuse the faults of your neighbour and never put an unfavourable interpretation upon his actions. The same action, says St. Francis de Sales, may be looked upon under many different aspects: a charitable person will ever suppose the best, an uncharitable one will just as certainly choose the worst.” [RP Quadrupani: Light and Peace Spiritual Instruction on Charity (c. 1795)]

            Having noted that, I will now summarize my intention with the last posting: it was to give you a taste of what you think others should receive. You were from all appearances bemoaning that priests and others do not chastise others from the pulpit for various failings of a more sensitive fashion and I said in the previous comment the following:

            “In other words, I am sure there are matters pertaining to the faith that they could speak on that would cause you and your ilk to stampede out as well.”

            While not exactly stampeding out, you did nonetheless take issue with being addressed in that comment in the same fashion that you think others (guilty of or predisposed to sins which you were not) should thus be. In other words, you proved my point in some of how you responded. You took a certain degree of offense in how you were addressed by me. Ask yourself now if perhaps there was/is not a certain wisdom in the way the spiritual masters so often spoke of the importance of prudence and discretion in how delicate matters were to be dealt with.

            As far as attempting to quote a private revelation as a counter where issues of philosophy, theology, history, etc. are concerned, it does concern me that someone who taught RCIA would do something like that. (I hope for the sake of your students that you never did that when teaching them but I digress.)

            [One can never receive enough spiritual instruction. De te fabula narratur.]

            One can indeed never receive enough spiritual instruction. And sometimes it helps to go back to works one has read before to draw fresh insights from them as well. I wish you all the best in such endeavours and hope that this follow up posting in some small way provides some points to ponder for you. And remember, the Easter season is far from over so rejoice: He Is Risen! 🙂

            • Richard Moorton

              Shawn,

              First of all, Shawn, the name is Richard, not Robert. As for my RCIA teaching, sager heads than yours have seen and approved. As for your suggestion that I might take away some wisdom from your demeaning condescension in this second strike, no less caustic than your first, there’s nothing in what you have written so far that is new to me. And besides, when one chooses a spiritual director one looks for a holy heart as well as a sharp and spiritual mind, the wisdom that comes from the peace of God. There is not much peaceful in you. You give the impression of being a young man eager for a scrap.

              I was a young rooster once myself but I have put aside the things of youth and my avidity for cockfighting with them. The clash of egos is an utter waste of time, and unGodly to boot.

              Thank you for the Easter salutations. I return them with the hope that when the Holy Spirit speaks to you, you will be filled with wisdom and grace.

              May you know the peace that surpasses all understanding.

              Fraternally,

              Richard

          • Guest

            [Shawn,]

            Good Morning Richard!

            [Since you see fit to attack me personally and at length, I feel it incumbent upon me to respond.]

            Yes I decided to respond to your whine fest (would you like some cheese with that?). Tell me how public bitching is in ANY way edifying for anyone?

            [I cannot read hearts but I can see.]

            My point was/is, there are both objective and subjective factors involved here and you are not privy to the latter with anyone. As I said previously, there are a lot of things you cannot see.

            [I was amazed when I began to attend a parish where the priest and I had a good rapport at how the percentage of mass goers who received communion always approached 100% but that weekly confessions only added up to three or four, on average.]

            Does the priest preach on the importance of confession as something that should be a regular occurrence for those who would approach the Eucharist?

            [I told the priest that this made sense if the parishioners were morally exceptional, to which he emphatically replied “They’re Not!).]

            Has that priest bothered to preach on the importance of making confession regularly for those who partake of the Eucharist?

            [At another church the homilist said that many parishioners explained their infrequent confessions by saying “Father, I don’t have anything to confess.” At this the priest began to hold up his hands and bow repeatedly, saying sarcastically, “Holy! Holy!”]

            See my previous comments. I do not see what good comes from that kind of sarcasm. There are a lot of folks whose understanding of sin is flawed. We have gone from those whose understanding of sin was so warped that they thought every sneeze and hiccup was a potential mortal sin (read: before Vatican II) to an attitude that basically nothing they do is a sin or warrants going to confession (read: after Vatican II). One distorted warped view countered by another opposite distorted view. And just as laxism was not the answer to yesterdays rigorism, rigorism now is not the answer to todays laxism.

            [2. You challenge my statement that technically most communions are bad communions. Well, let’s consult evidence and probability. A Gallup poll released on May 22 2012 reported that

            82% of Catholics believe that contraception is o.k. (the link is exceptionally long: google it).

            Do the math.]

            There is no reason to do any math and you miss the point yet again. There are objective and subjective factors that go into mortal sin. Not every objectionably grave act is automatically mortally sinful.

            [“Aaah so they [priests] do not speak about things [sexual matters] that are important to “you”.” Yes they are. And should be. If you take the locutions of Mary at Fatima seriously,she said that most people who are damned fall because of sexual sins.]

            And AGAIN you go off the rails. The Church has long taught that you cannot use private revelations to settle any questions pertaining to philosophy, theology, history, or anything else. For more on this matter, see this short article:

            http://catholiclane.com/catholics-and-private-revelation-part-ii-the-voice-of-tradition/

            [Your shrewd inference that I am complaining about something to which I am not susceptible is exactly, totally wrong.]

            As your recourse to a private revelation to try and settle a question pertaining to theology is a method that the Church does not approve of, your conclusion from this faulty methodology falls apart.

            [As for Catholic authors calling for prudence and delicacy are called for in such matters, I reply that a. My point was highly germane to the discussion, and b. Paul called upon Christians to recognize that their bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.]

            St. Paul also counseled that one should be careful in how they controversial behavior for the sake of the “weaker brethren” (1Cor viii,9-13, Romans xiv,13ff).

            [Modesty is critically important, though in fact many of those who seem to violate it are clueless. The culture has corrupted moral sensibilities, and that is also a matter worthy of note. I think this is a time to speak.]

            Again, these are matters to be handled with great prudence. The Vatican has always counseled this on more delicate matters (particularly when issuing instructions to priests on how to approach the confessional) and it is not without reason: the deeper the wound, the more damage can be done by those who stumble clumsily in attempting to rectify it.

            [If priests do not catechize, the ignorance of the faithful will continue. It may anyway, but the pastors must call the sheep.]

            I do not disagree with you here in principle. The issue is how is the catechesis best undertaken in order to bear fruit. Taking a heavy-handed approach and then complaining when your efforts bear no fruit is hardly advisable and at that point, the damage has already been done by you despite having the best of intentions otherwise. St. Paul had to learn this the hard way in his own evangelization efforts as his letter and Luke’s chronology in Acts amply attest to. We would do well to learn from his experiences on this as well and apply the lessons in our own endeavours in these areas.

            [On the laity as evangelizers: “Historically there are no schisms or heresy that ever took its start from the laity.” Whether or not this is true is irrelevant. Heresies and schisms have often been given real strength and momentum by laity with unorthodox views. We have plenty of that now.]

            It is not irrelevant at all. Reform movements have historically never started with the clergy but have always been from the bottom up. By the time the clergy gets on board a movement of reform has usually been gathering steam for a long time. Things are hardly any different today and that was my point: genuine reform starts at the bottom.

            Furthermore, evangelization is most effective in deeds rather than words. Not to say the latter are unimportant but deeds are more so. Or in words attributed to St. Francis of Assisi “preach the Gospel at all times, when necessary use words.”

            [If Easter was not a time of spiritual jubilation, “that is your fault and no one else’s.” I think rather that it was a team effort. I remember that Saint Francis once wandered desolately through the streets saying in profound sadness “Love is not loved!” Yes, seeing behavior in church that seems to me to indicate that people really don’t know where they are, in the presence of the Living God, depresses me.]

            Your focus at church should be on yourself: be the publican humbly beseeching God to forgive you for your sins and pray for other people. Your original comment came off very Pharisaical and we have far too many Pharisees and not enough publicans today. Or in the words of Thomas a Kempis:

            “TURN your attention upon yourself and beware of judging the deeds of other men, for in judging others a man labors vainly, often makes mistakes, and easily sins; whereas, in judging and taking stock of himself he does something that is always profitable.”

            [If it was right for the Fathers of the Church and writers in subsequent times to complain about parishioners for behavior like that visible now, then I am in excellent company.]

            My point is that human nature is what it is and you are not seeing anything today that has not been seen before. Jesus’ reference to people as sheep is hardly the lovely image that sugary sickening Catholic piety loved to paint on holy cards in eras past but instead was one better understood by those who used to work the land. Namely, sheep are very stupid. They can know what is the right thing to do and they still do the wrong thing and often. This is due to our fallen natures of course but the problem applies to all of us. Just because you do not dress inappropriately at mass or strive to receive the Eucharist worthily does not mean you are not a dumb sheep too. The difference is your dumb sheepness is just in different areas than those at church you refer to.

            [When I admit that I too am a sinner, you refer me to your previous comments in which I find no illumination for my melancholy. Not only that, but in subsequent commentary you accuse me of being a Pharisee. Jesus faults the Pharisee in company with a repentant publican for denying that he has the faults of other men. I do not]

            Your previous comment was filled with complaining about the faults and flaws of others. How is this any different in substance than what the Pharisee in the temple did?

            [Furthermore, Jesus did not criticize the teaching of the Pharisees, since “They sit in the throne of Moses,” but not to do what they do, because they are hypocrites. I go to church not to be seen but because I need it. Like the publican.]

            But evidently you spend your time there taking in the more visual faults and flaws of many others rather than focusing on yourself and remembering that we are all sinners albeit not in the same things.

            [As for your sarcastic judgment that if observing unfaithful observance (whether intentional or not) is hard on my faith, then I am in serious need of spiritual instruction.]

            I notice that you have made the presumption that what I wrote previously was “an attack” on you, that something else I said was “sarcastic”, etc. all of this proves my point. I will touch on it again in a moment.

            [I think we all are, always, but I will say that I am spiritually literate, I have taught RCIA at two parishes for years and the priests and deacons who knew my work professed themselves pleased. While I don’t know Quadrupani’s work, I have read St. Augustine, Theresa of Avila, Catherine of Sienna, Julian of Norwich, Catherine of Genoa, Sister Faustina, Thomas a Kempis, the scriptures of course, and many other spiritual masters in extenso.]

            To read your previous complaining, it would not give any indication of such reading on your part.

            [As a Classicist I can read Latin and Greek, and hence can read the Septuagint and the New Testament in the original. As for John of the Cross, not only have I read Dark Night of the Soul but all of John of the Cross carefully and lovingly. I have known spiritual ecstacy only a few times, but when the light of this great mystic finally broke into my mind (this was in my sixties–I had tried John several times before but simply not been ready) I reached my personal peak. I write this obnoxious catalog only to document that I am not an ingenue.]

            As I said previously, your prior comments did not give any hint of such reading on your part. And your imputing to me motives of judgment and sarcasm does not come off as one who would know from the spiritual writers that one should not put unfavourable interpretations onto the words and actions of another:

            “Always be ready and willing to excuse the faults of your neighbour and never put an unfavourable interpretation upon his actions. The same action, says St. Francis de Sales, may be looked upon under many different aspects: a charitable person will ever suppose the best, an uncharitable one will just as certainly choose the worst.” [RP Quadrupani: Light and Peace Spiritual Instruction on Charity (c. 1795)]

            Having noted that, I will now summarize my intention with the last posting: it was to give you a taste of what you think others should receive. You were from all appearances bemoaning that priests and others do not chastise others from the pulpit for various failings of a more sensitive fashion and I said in the previous comment the following:

            “In other words, I am sure there are matters pertaining to the faith that they could speak on that would cause you and your ilk to stampede out as well.”

            While not exactly stampeding out, you did nonetheless take issue with being addressed in that comment in the same fashion that you think others (guilty of or predisposed to sins which you were not) should thus be. In other words, you proved my point in some of how you responded. You took a certain degree of offense in how you were addressed by me. Ask yourself now if perhaps there was/is not a certain wisdom in the way the spiritual masters so often spoke of the importance of prudence and discretion in how delicate matters were to be dealt with.

            As far as attempting to quote a private revelation as a counter where issues of philosophy, theology, history, etc. are concerned, it does concern me that someone who taught RCIA would do something like that. (I hope for the sake of your students that you never did that when teaching them but I digress.)

            [One can never receive enough spiritual instruction. De te fabula narratur.]

            One can indeed never receive enough spiritual instruction. And sometimes it helps to go back to works one has read before to draw fresh insights from them as well. I wish you all the best in such endeavours and hope that this follow up posting in some small way provides some points to ponder for you. And remember, the Easter season is far from over so rejoice: He Is Risen! 🙂

      • jacobhalo

        Come to the EF, especially at my parish, where the priest adresses all the issues that the Novus Ordo doesn’t address.

      • Pamela

        I had the same experience at our Easter Vigil and share all of your concerns. I am so angry sometimes I want to stand in the aisle and scream at the utter irreverence. Then this morning at my Bible study, we listened to an audio by Scott Hahn on “suffering” (sorry, I don’t remember the exact title). Scott relayed his experience at Via Della Rosa in Jerusalem. He was trying to pray the stations of the Cross amidst Arabs hawking wares, kids running through the streets, pick-pockets lurking everywhere … he was very angry about the irreverence and intrusion. And then he realized that this was most likely the atmosphere surrounding our Lord 2,000 years ago as he carried His cross through the city, and it humbled him. Further, he reflected, Jesus was present and the power of prayer was not diminished in his experience that day. So Scott did what we Catholics are called to do — he offered up his suffering (his discomfort that day) as a redemptive act. Just thought I’d share that, for what it’s worth. God bless!

        • musicacre

          But still, it is shocking that the church itself is a place where a believer comes to worship and yet often has the atmosphere of that ancient marketplace of bedlam you describe. Aside from offering it up many other remedies can be tried. My husband and I sat at the front and tried to demonstrate not talking, not fidgeting and talking to neighbors, wearing dress clothes (when we first began at this parish they wore ugly street clothes, often sports clothing.) We found that more and more people started being more quiet. I was asked many times by curious women why I was so dressed up (not because we’re rich, raising 6 kids on one income). Eventually, we began to see other mothers swearing modest skirts to church and we also began selling Catholic books in the basement during coffee after Mass, along with my parents who also just moved to this parish. The priest didn’t mind because he was in his 80’sand although old-school, was too tired to preach it completely. time went on and we shared that we were homeschooling. The first two couples were absolutely thrilled and have homeschooled ever since. We all still do. Many other families joined over the years, and if nothing else, homeschooling is a great opportunity to witness to your children and give them the only chance they will have to experience the mass from a respectful and appreciative way. We were able(as a group) to give the priests over the years the support to make little changes to make the atmosphere more holy and centered on Christ, not the “community”. There’s so much more I could say, but in short, I think that if one makes even a small effort to attend Mass in a prepared and spiritual way, God will not only meet us halfway, He will increase our faith and great things will happen that you never expected! I thank Him alone for the gift of faith in my mostly grown-up children now, as they spread their hope to others!

          • Pamela

            You are so right that we need to lead by example! My husband and I, like you, are very careful to dress appropriately for Mass and refrain from socializing in the pews, keeping our attention entirely focused on the altar. I can see that it has an impact on the people immediately surrounding us, and hopefully it will spread. But we have a long ways to go … cell phones ringing during Mass has become the norm … don’t even get me started.

            • musicacre

              We’re in the trenches, but it’s so worth it! I noticed one very respectful mass in the city (where we don’t live) where the priest had taken the initiative to post a sign on the door separating the church from the foyer that said “Silence! Beyond this point.” And it’s worked so well the next generation already is accustomed to leaving their chatter behind in the foyer. So, there is always hope!

        • Rtort

          I did that same walk in 1985 with the same experience but was also sexually propositioned which made me feel really wretched and was shown by a wise priest that in a distant way I too was seeing and experiencing something of what Our Lord endured on top of everything else. It was a humbling an awesome and unexpected experience to say the least. I ditched some false piety after that.

    • Rtort

      Explain CINOS please. Maybe it’s because I am English that I don’t understand this acronym?

      • TheAbaum

        Catholics In Name Only.

  • FranklinWasRight

    Education. True liberal arts education where teachers pass on the treasures of Western Civilization is nowhere to be found in public schools and found in just a few Catholic schools. Without it, the torch of reason goes out.

    • Given what liberals have done, maybe it is better that they don’t have reason.

      • pensulo

        Theodore! I just realized that you are a political poster. From your previous posts, I had thought you were a religious thinker. What’s with the politics? Is it possible that mixing politics with theology is driving youngsters away from the church?

        • Thomas

          The only thing that drives people away from the Church is their own free will. Some people shop for truth in the same way they shop for shoes. Or food. But thanks just the same for commenting here.

        • Politics, like every other human endeavor, should be subject to theology. Catholic first. American a VERY distant second, given the anti-Catholic theology of the Declaration of Independence.

          • hombre111

            I am a Catholic citizen of the world before I am an American, but I realize how wide the Catholic horizon is. I do not settle for a few degrees on the compass and label it orthodoxy. In this, I follow the example of St. Thomas Aquinas, who dared read the philosophy of the pagan Aristotle and use it to create an articulate and enduring expression of Catholic faith.

            • Postmodernists are not St. Thomas Aquinas. I can find nothing in the Summa that denies the existence of sin nor treats a minority differently than everybody else in hopes of making their particular culture not sinful.

              And Christ didn’t lie when he said the road to heaven is narrow, taken only by the few. (it’s nice to read the whole chapter instead of stopping at the first six verses, which it seems far too often the heterodox see “Judge not lest ye be judged” and never get to “24“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.””).

              Homosexuality, like contraception and abortion, is failing to put the teachings of the church into practice.

              • hombre111

                As I said, Catholicism has a wide horizon. Some of us do not lump contraception and homosexuality in with abortion. Interesting that you put homosexuality in the same pen as abortion. Others would acknowledge that homosexuality is what the Catechism called a “disordered condition,” and accept it as something whose causes remain mysterious. They would then put homosexual acts in a different category, as seriously sinful. If I want to see what the narrow view looks like on some issue, I read Crisis. If I want to see an even narrower view, I get involved in the discussion following each article.

                • Homosexual acts are indeed what make homosexuality sinful, as contraceptive acts are what make contraception sinful. Homosexual acts are sinful *BECAUSE* they are contraceptive, homosexuality is disordered *BECAUSE* it is contraceptive.

                  I find arguments *for* homosexuality and contraception to be logically inconsistent with a consistent ethic of life and chastity. Venial sins lead to mortal sins, it’s better to avoid sin and temptation to sin than to just claim that sin doesn’t exist or whatever.

                  Hippie dippy theology would have everybody saved, no evil exist at all- and no good either. The last 40 years has proven how incredibly dangerous wide theology is- and how incredibly deadly.

                  • hombre111

                    Homosexuality is a condition the Catechism called disordered. It does not call homosexuality sinful. There are homosexual priests who lead chaste lives. Like I said, if I want to see what the far right of the far right is saying, I read the comments on sites like Crisis.

                    • “Homosexuality is a condition the Catechism called disordered”

                      Yes, but why is it disordered? Because it is sex that violates chastity, that is, sex that isn’t procreative.

                      ” It does not call homosexuality sinful. There are homosexual priests who lead chaste lives.”

                      Yes. Which is an act *against* homosexuality, which is hopelessly promiscuous.

                      The chaste homosexual is fighting the tendency of homosexuality and the temptation to homosexual acts, which are sinful.

                      It is always noble to fight sin. But the first step in fighting sin, is to admit that the sin exists. You modern heterodox preachers would have us believe that homosexuality is never sinful, not because it is an intrinsic mental disorder, but because sin doesn’t exist.

                • musicacre

                  Interestingly, most of these serious sins have also serious physical consequences in each case. What makes you think contraception is safe? The “pill” is one of the strongest, non-tested drugs on the market and most of the world’s women on it. Cancer is now incredibly common for the first generation of women that used for all their fertile years. It’s politically incorrect to test it or do an inquiry of any kind. Shows you what the
                  Western manufacturers (drugs ) think of women, eh? They are disposable consumers, and class action suits are paid off without ever coming to the light of publicity.

                  • hombre111

                    Contraception cannot be a serious sin! In Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI, speaking to couples who are still using artificial means, to pray to understand what the Church is teaching, and to keep going to confession and communion. He tells priests who hear the confession of the same couple to explain Church teaching and then ask them to pray and to keep going to confession and communion. Neither the pope nor the priest could say this if contraception were a mortal sin. They would be obliged to say, stop, or I cannot give you absolution.

                    • musicacre

                      We were told by a priest whose specialty is marriage and family life, that a sin is serious (death to the soul) if a person persists after being informed that it is serious. A sin always must have free will, therefore absolute ignorance may be excused for a short time.

                    • hombre111

                      By remaining silent on the seriousness of artificial contraception, and by asking people to pray, go to confession, and go to communion, the pope was saying it was not a serious sin. But people are free to make anything a mortal sin if they want. I once asked a Protestant minister if someone could go to hell for stealing a nickel. He said, yes.

                    • musicacre

                      I think when a priest truly loves the souls he is entrusted with, he would error on side of caution, not the other way around, since it is eternal damnation involved and not just getting into an accident or something merely physical.

                    • hombre111

                      Sorry. I don’t think eternal damnation is involved. If we were talking about abortion, that would be different.

                    • musicacre

                      This is the 21st century and even though the “pill” has not been subjected to normal testing we do now know it often works as an abortion drug…on average 1 out of 7 times for the average fertile woman. (Breakthrough ovulation, etc.) Especially because the dosage was adjusted to be diminished since it had so many devastating side effects… This is explained by doctors, and you can Google it, or find out from the med authority of the American Conf of Catholic Bishops.

                      So if a women has found that out, knows she could be having an abortion by taking the drug, when does it become culpable in your eyes? Never? We ARE talking about abortion. We women aren’t fragile as glass and most of us would rather have the truth. You shouldn’t underestimate the desire of your women penitents to go to heaven first, have an easy life….second.

                    • hombre111

                      Good post. I went on Google and did a search, stopping after the second page. Whether or not the pill causes an abortion seems to be a contested question. Even Focus on the Family cannot make up its mind.
                      But we cannot forget that we are discussing human life here, with all due reverence. And so, even though I have profound reservations about the Church’s teaching on the subject, I think couples should be very serious about the matter. First, a prayer, then the fact that we must all carry the crosses that go with our station in life. Then a thoughtful examination of the literature on the subject, pros and cons. Then an honest look at our own situation and our own life. All along, more prayers. An honest conversation between husband and wife. An honest conversation with God. A decision.
                      As I was walking along, this chain of thought. In all honesty, would you be willing to give up your life for the sake of your spouse? Your children? A baby being formed in your womb or in your spouse’s womb? A just fertilized ovum which scientists tell us has only a thirty percent chance of implantation and survival to birth?

                    • musicacre

                      Yes, to all those questions, and the yes is what was in my heart for all seven of my pregnancies!

                      The reason I mentioned the practical physical potential medical crisis brought on by the pill …never mind the manufacturers’ warning about clotting, stroke,etc…is that often if we want to get out of a moral crisis the wrong way, it leads to a worse one-even physically- anyways.

                      You can only arm people with the truth sincerely, strengthen them, (graces from sacraments is no small thing) pray for them and of course the rest is up to them!

                    • hombre111

                      Wonderful. You live by your principles.

                    • hombre111

                      I cringe a bit when someone calls human beings “souls.” This neo-Platonic dualistic definition reduces us to abstract spiritual realities. My favorite example of the consequences is when the Christian missionaries would baptize the black slaves and send them off to be worked to death in the fields. They died in a long, slow agony, but they were saved. Human beings are embodied beings with hopes, dreams, struggles, pain, joy. I have to take this into account, or I betray myself.

                    • musicacre

                      I find it a bit strange that an ordained? priest would “cringe” at the mention of a soul. Of all people you must realize that is the part of us that is made to the image and likeness of God, which is to be never-dying, but eternal. Funny that in secular life a lot of regular organizing lists in public still refer to “souls” and have no problem using that word…ie” 500 souls on the ferry, 150 souls on the aircraft.” but particularly in the area of marine you still find this. Why would your mind immediately flash to some gruesome scenario hundreds of years ago that is not relevant to today. If anything you should be using the word more often as a lot of people nowadays seem to think after they become 5 pounds of dust there is nothing more. The priests who were brave enough to venture on the plantations and harbors to baptize are to be commended (incl St. Martin de Porres) unless you think baptism isn’t a privilege for the down-and-outers. Are they not good enough to be entering the Kingdom that is our true life, and not just count on the shadows of this fleeting one where we are seldom much remembered after we die? I wouldn’t worry too much about reducing people to abstract spiritual realities when most people would find it a surprise they have a soul; because their lives are so much reduced to PHYSICAL realities.

                    • hombre111

                      As a philosopher, I am repulsed by anything smacking of Platonic dualism, because that has been the root of so many heresies. When a religious person calls someone a soul, he is abstracting from the fact that we are an integrated whole. Religious people who are fond of the word soul are often the same people who reject any concern over social justice and the issues of the poor.

                    • musicacre

                      Social justice has morphed into an upside down concept since the time of Father Coughlin…he certainy was an example of bringing dignity to people’s lives without (compromising morality) aiding abortion, etc like the present day holier-than-thou- apologists for funding abortion clinics.

                    • hombre111

                      Don’t know how Fr. Coughlin got into this, but you are an example of what I have been trying to say. You are speaking from your own experience, out of your own discoveries. I think it is this kind of witness that would cause a person to hesitate about contraception, not some lecture about the abstractions of natural law.

                    • musicacre

                      It’s funny, but earlier you were wanting authentic witness from couples who have real life experience in this area. Now you say it might cause someone to hesitate because it’s my “own experience.” Make up your mind, you said you wanted to hear from a wife point of view.

                      You “think ” it may cause someone to hesitate, and now you advocate abstract only. I don’t hope to win an argument with you since I am merely a housewife, stay-at-home Mom, or whatever they call us these days… But I can give you a little certainty in how the message of “our” experience was received by young Catholic couples. My husband and I taught NFP (Billings) for over 10 years and a lot of that was at the cathedral with medium to large groups. I have always been overwhelmed by the later responses, long after; couples coming up to us and saying…” Hey do you remember us? You taught us. Look at our baby, ” etc etc. Very happy to tell us months later and even years later that they were grateful we taught them. I always feel a little humbled because as a nurse I automatically think it’s common knowledge, basic anatomy and physiology, and how fertility works. There should be NO debate or hesitation about teaching couples, ever. Period. This is info about their bodies (and souls) they’re entitled to have. The decision is a personal one between them, after they have all the facts from the teachers, and the priest from a moral perspective. But it is ludicrous to expect them to make a healthy moral decision whey they do not possess the facts.

                      As for Fr. Coughlin, I thought it was very appropriate, since he was a huge figure in the public square advocacy and that is somewhat the theme of this article , if you examine the first sentence. He put himself out there and strengthened the faith of hundreds of thousands of Catholics.

                    • hombre111

                      Sorry. I did not make my post clear enough. I think your shared experience is vital, crucial, and beautiful. It takes an abstraction and turns it into human flesh. Putting a human face on NFP gives the whole idea real credibility.

                    • musicacre

                      You didn’t comment on the fact that a priest also gives the green light for a dangerous drug (which he shouldn’t do, since it’s out of his area of expertise…) when he says to go ahead and take the pill. You could tell someone not take arsenic or cyanide, because it’s immoral to commit suicide, but even the natural toxic effects are a reason not to suggest it or go along with it.

            • Art Deco

              I am a Catholic citizen of the world

              There is no such thing as a ‘citizen of the world’.

  • pensulo

    Please allow me to disagree with Attorney Kalb about the “the loss of status by religion and literature.” Literature is still popular; one of my friends is seeking out and reading all kinds of Catholic literature. The book stores are full of buyers; Amazon’s bookstore is flourishing. Libraries have patrons. However, religion is suffering a loss of status. Kalb is correct. The reason for the loss, however, is because many people have realized that most ‘Faiths,’ including Catholicism, are based on superstition and belief without evidence. This article, for example, while very long on opinion, contains not one numerical fact. In short, it is useless bloviation.

    • In that, it is in keeping with every scientific journal currently out there.

      • pensulo

        Thanks! Which science journals do you have in mind? Take a few minutes to explain what you mean for the readers, please. Do you believe these are mere hot air also?
        Journal of Soil and Water Conservation?
        Science and Technology of Advanced Materials?
        American Journal of Physics?
        Journal of the American Medical Association?
        Journal of Functional Programming?

        • I believe all of them produce bought and paid for results, full of confirmation bias. I’m to the point that I accuse the current peer review system of failing to follow the scientific method to obvious conclusions, and instead, merely produce results in keeping with grants given.

          • pensulo

            All of them? All? You are tough!

        • hombre111

          Try the vast bibliography provided by McGilchrist in his “The Master and his Emissary.” He reveals how partial and inadequate scientific thinking is when it enters the realm of epistemology and metaphysics.

    • Guest

      You seem to be saying most folks are shallow thinkers and mere materialists. Credentialed but not educated. They form opinions but cannot reason well. They read but barely understand. That is why they are attracted to a false gospel. One that is made in their own image. They are not interested in the Pope as much as they are interested in the wishes they impute to him.

    • Objectivetruth

      It must be new troll day…..

    • hombre111

      Something is bloviation if it is not backed by some number? Provide me, please, with a mathematical formula that captures and explains your love for your wife and family. What I find here is the arrogance of the left brain. If you want to read something that will challenge this kind of thinking, read Iain McGilchrist’s “The Master and its Emissary. McGilchrist is a psychiatrist with a huge knowledge of philosophy along with deep research into the brain.

  • LWC

    How can there be any other outcome than what is present today? ‘A house divided cannot stand,’ or so I heard.

  • Hugh_Lunn

    Jacques Ellul and George Parkin Grant are two seminal thinkers who analyzed the way a technological society reduces discourse. The philosopher, Eric Voegelin, intricately describes the “derailment” of modernity and the loss of a connection with divine reality. The crisis we are in is profound and our bishops are primarily presenting the Faith in the debased language of modernity.

  • smokes

    Half of life is showing up. Catholics don’t. We should be in the streets more. There should be more parades and convocations. We should be arguing our points in Republican and Democratic forums. There should be “billboards” to help Catholics get jobs or to gather to form corporations. Instead, we’re snidely arguing with one another on computer blogs.

    It’s pathetic.

    • TheAbaum

      Republicans will begrudgingly tolerate you, and largely forget you after the election. As for Democrats, forget it. They worship a different god. You have a choice between not much and not at all.

      • smokes

        if three parishes filled with Catholics descend on the local Democratic Committee things WILL change..at least in that ward. Even if it doesn’t, it’s fun to rile them up! Perhaps they’ll examine their consciences?

        But, no, better to stay chained to the blog ( not meaning Abaum, personally at all!) spouting psuedo-erudition. Catholics helping Catholics, instead of Baptists who’ll be future Moslems, would be a nifty change, too.

        • musicacre

          We couldn’t even get 3 parishes of Catholics to March for life after years of articles, pleading, etc. My husband ran for the local federal rep (Canada) and our fellow “conservative” parishioners and friends could barely make it to the nomination meeting…. Even many verbally “radical ” Catholics still don’t get the necessity of getting out their chairs….

    • Senhorbotero

      YEP…. sometimes I get the impression that blogs are useful tools of the power that be. They are like sports and shopping, places to let off steam and unwind. They dissipate energy that could go toward solutions. Now i think they are educational but somewhere somehow leaders need to arise and take action. I seriously think we need a movement outside of the blogosphere.

    • musicacre

      People that don’t grow from discussion are intimidated to think that everything that doesn’t agree with their way of thinking is an “argu(ment)”. Not pathetic to compare ideas with others, and btw, my husband and I used to have a pro-life billboard on the highway..that we owned.

  • hombre111

    I think the popes have it right: Preach, and live, the gospel. That was their central focus. Pope John Paul was a scold about it, and that turned a lot of people off. His books and speeches are a rhetorical nightmare, even if if you are philosophically and theologically erudite. Pope Benedict was a teacher and his books make wonderful reading. I think many who were turned off by Pope John Paul really appreciated Pope Benedict. I know I did. Pope Francis, with his ready smile and simple humanity, reaches many people who were on their way out the door. He follows the advice of St. Francis: Preach the Gospel. Sometimes you will have to use words.
    But I have never been overly impressed by natural law, which has moved the Church into the rationalism of the Renaissance and its destruction of faith because it tries to reduce life’s deepest truths to logic. This kind of thinking had its origin in the ethical discussions of the pagan stoics. Once we get into that oh-so-rational place, a question can be asked: If I can live a good life on the basis of simple common sense, why do I need revelation? Natural law cannot carry a person very far into the world of faith. For instance, all the yak about birth control violating natural law, whatever that means within the larger context of family and married life. Why reframe the question into the challenge to live with the love and self-sacrifice of Christ? Why not challenge married people to engage in prayerful dialogue with the Holy Spirit.

    • Objectivetruth

      Agree with you hombre on Pope Benedict’s writing, beautiful and worth reading. I especially like his words on the 40th anniversary of Humana Vitae, reaffirming the Church’s prohibition on the immorality of contraception. Beautiful and brilliant:

      “The Magisterium of the Church cannot be exonerated from reflecting in an ever new and deeper way on the fundamental principles that concern marriage and procreation. What was true yesterday is true also today. The truth expressed in Humanae Vitae does not change; on the contrary, precisely in the light of the new scientific discoveries, its teaching becomes more timely and elicits reflection on the intrinsic value it possesses. The key word to enter coherently into its content remains “love”. As I wrote in my first Encyclical Deus Caritas Est: “Man is truly himself when his body and soul are intimately united…. Yet it is neither the spirit alone nor the body alone that loves: it is man, the person, a unified creature composed of body and soul, who loves” (n. 5). If this unity is removed, the value of the person is lost and there is a serious risk of considering the body a commodity that can be bought or sold (cf. ibid). In a culture subjected to the prevalence of “having’ over “being’, human life risks losing its value. If the practice of sexuality becomes a drug that seeks to enslave one’s partner to one’s own desires and interests, without respecting the cycle of the beloved, then what must be defended is no longer solely the true concept of love but in the first place the dignity of the person. As believers, we could never let the domination of technology invalidate the quality of love and the sacredness of life.

      • hombre111

        I would like to hear a group of married people discuss the Pope’s words. Again, my gripe about celibates explaining marriage to married people comes to the front. Does he describe the real situation between men and women, or is he setting up a straw man? Is sex a drug when a man delights in the body of his wife? What does it mean, to “respect the cycle of his wife.”? In practical reality, how do husband and wife deal with each other as “the person, a unified creature composed of body and soul, who loves.”? What does that mean on a day by day basis? I cannot answer these questions, any more than a married person can tell me what to do on those days when I see the little children in church and an empty place opens up in my heart because I have no grandchildren.

        • Objectivetruth

          I’ll put it this way, hombre:

          At the beginning of our marriage, my wife and I ignored Church teaching and used oral contraceptives. We didn’t want children yet, and contraception was a nice, easy way to still have all the jollies of sex, without any consequences. And the best way to view it is in hindsight now, 15 years later. Looking back,our sex seemed “soulless”, just a physical act of momentary arousal. It seems she really wasn’t my wife……almost a roommate. Honestly, looking back, there was some giant chasm between us that I can’t explain what it was, there was just something really missing between us and in our marriage. I started exploring more Chris West’s Interpretation of the Theology of the Body. I read other Church teachings on marriage, and it started answering questions and filling in that chasm. I told my wife we needed to stop contraception

          • Objectivetruth

            (Cont)and look in to NFP. To make along story short, 15 years (and several children) later, and looking back, the before (contraception) and after (NFP, Church teaching) is striking. It’s tough to explain, but it seemed there was a “barrier”, wall between my wife and I when we were contracepting. It’s tough to put in to words, but we seem closer, less self centered, more “one flesh”, bonded. Greater respect, concern, and dignity for each other. Truly married, until death does us part.

            Once again it’s tough to explain, but there is a much greater closeness to each other now then in our contraception days. And interestingly, we have both become much closer to God. Trying to discern His will for us is clearer now, then before.

            Bottom line: my wife and I would never go back to using contraception. It’s much, much better now….in so many ways.

            • musicacre

              Thanks for that testimony, I think it might be helpful for alot of people. We began our marriage almost 30 years ago, understanding NFP and having a fair amount of literature on it. Knowing that we ignored it and just had as many children as naturally came, which was about 5, before we actually thought we should use NFP… the Catholic way, not as a contraceptive. We still still had two pregnancies after, one of which survived. I don’t pretend it was always easy, mentally or financially, but most of us aren’t severely tested, and when we are, that is where our faith is important. Having these 6 lovely children how could one point to a picture and say, ” we shouldn’t have had this one…” I bet that Mexican woman takes great pride in her children many years later. Raising them is a brief (too brief!) stage. They are a comfort in our old age, and a delight in middle age, as their careers take off and they mature in their faith. I expect great things from each of them as their faith is more informed and more aware than mine was.

          • hombre111

            Excellent. Thank you. This is what I mean: we need to hear from the real life experience of husband and wife. Young married people need to hear about your experience.

            But another couple in different circumstances might tell a very different story. I think of my mother, who told my alcoholic father, “I will not bring another hungry child into this world.” And so she moved out of the bedroom and slept with her daughters, and stopped with her seventh child. A wedge appeared between my parents that was never healed. Or like the poor Hispanic woman who came to me in confession and told me she was pregnant with her sixth child. It was clear that she was at her financial, emotional, and physical limit. After the birth of her child, she would face sex unwillingly, and with great dread. At that time, it would seem that the most spiritually healing thing she and her husband could do would be to bring procreation to an end. NFP? Many couples can tell you about its failures. I did not say so, but my recognition would be surgical intervention, so that the apprehension could end.

      • Richard Moorton

        I’d like to add my voice to those praising the writings of Benedict/Ratzinger. His language was beautiful and precise and his learning was phenomenal. I much admired his first two books on Jesus, but he has others on the encounter of Catholicism with the modern age which are classics of their kind. When he was a professor at Tubingen he walked the halls with a Greek New Testament in his hip pocket. After he moved to Rome I was in Tubingen for a conference and had the chance to walk those same halls. It was a moving experience.

        I will add as a footnote that my visit overlapped with Sunday. After some searching I found a Catholic church within walking distance. Those who attended mass were devout, but very few, and mostly older. I did not relish witnessing the dechristianization of Europe with my own eyes.

        Best,

        Richard

        • Rtort

          ..and I’m living in it and in grief to see its demise almost on a daily basis.

        • musicacre

          Sounds like Quebec; I lived there for a short time in ’79 and the churches were empty….on Sunday.

    • It’s good to be able to start the discussion where people are, and build on what they’ve already learned about life. Natural law has to do with natural goals and tendencies and innate ways of functioning that people are familiar with on some level and any sensible way of life has to accept and work with. So in principle, in some rhetorical form, it ought to be useful for talking to ordinary people about the world and their lives. You don’t stop there, but it’s good to be able at some point to show how the different aspects of human life and the world fit together and natural law and reason are part of that. If we can’t deal with a basic aspect of things like reason that’s a big problem.

      The piece suggests that the approach has broken down in many settings because discussion is carried on as if technology were the whole of rationality, and technology has no use for natural goals and tendencies or innate ways of functioning. If that’s so though then a fortiori you won’t be able to talk comprehensibly about life’s deepest truths or the love and self-sacrifice of Christ. It will all get assimilated to a system in which everyone gets as much as possible whatever he happens to want and that’s considered the highest good.

      That’s why the piece suggests that we have to engage in some other kind of discussion that has to do with life as lived and people naturally end up understanding it rather than life as now conceived publicly. (As you suggest, starting discussions is not the only thing we should be doing.)

      • hombre111

        Thanks for a thoughtful reply. One problem is, people with the writing skills that appear on Crisis write mostly for the saved. Maybe you could find a way to appear in other venues? I think of Mr. Douthat, in the New York Times, who does not hide his Christian perspective.
        That said, I agree with the need for a better way to discuss issues that have to do with life as lived. Makes me think of an ethics course I took at the secular university where I was campus minister. The prof summed up the three questions asked by ethicists throughout the ages. 1) When I make a choice, what personal values do I promote? Are they values worth dying for? What personal values might I put in danger? . 2) What relationships are threatened by my choice of action? What relationships are enhanced? 3) What are the short term consequences of my choice? The long term consequences? If everyone made the choices I just made, what would be the consequences, positive or negative, for values and relationships?

        • musicacre

          I agree that it would be great to see good Catholic writers get out of the Catholic “ghetto” and into mainstream papers. There are very few (papers) today however that will tolerate a Catholic writer, one that follows the faith. Chesterton used to be featured in the London Daily Telegraph I believe, and my mother-in-law who lived in India at the time said as a schoolgirl she read him every week. The teachers (religious sister) encouraged the students to read this.

      • Gail Finke

        I love your books, thanks so much for writing them.

      • Rtort

        ‘It will all get assimilated to a system in which everyone gets as much as possible whatever he happens to want and that’s considered the highest good’ This utterly dystopian vision is where we are nearly at now and makes me feel almost sick! God have mercy on us all!

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    Paul became “all things to all men that [he] might save all…”

    Not quite. St Paul was not so sanguine: “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some [τινὰς σώσω] 1 Cor 9:22

    • I quoted the Douay, which follows Jerome on the point. The New Vulgate has it your way though.

  • Pamela

    Thank you for an excellent article. I wish I’d read it yesterday, as I struggled to write an op-ed with the pro-life reaction to my local newspaper editor’s attack on state legislation limiting abortion. I knew if I presented the Catholic teaching, most people would roll their eyes…same thing if I talked about the innocent unborn, because they’ve heard it all and still choose to look the other way. But in the end, that was the gist of the op-ed, although spoken from my heart and, I hope, in a way that connected with the reader’s sensibilities. I ended it with this quote from Pope Francis, since everyone seems to pay attention to him: “Being free always to choose goodness is demanding, but it will make you into people with backbone who can face life, people with courage and patience.”

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  • Joseph

    Thank you for this article – it is indeed important to be able to communicate with the secular elites, but that indeed doesn’t mean that we give up talking as Catholics and Christians.

    I recently saw a moving example of legal and financial talk still managing to keep important Christian considerations in focus – it was an open letter by Russian President Vladimir Putin, regarding Ukraine’s gas consumption and unpaid balance. It was an open letter addressed to the European Union and Ukraine, calling for a solution based on more than simply financial considerations – a solution based on human solidarity, and the necessity of economic-financial cooperation based on mutual good will and friendship. The letter was a good 15-20 pages long, it mostly dealt with technical details of quantities, prices, and payment terms. It barely mentioned the politically incorrect words of “good will” and “friendship” once or twice. Still, it made a big impact on more than one reader. The letter laid out, matter-of-factly, that Russia has been selling natural gas at a deep discount to Ukraine ($260 to Ukraine vs. the free market price of $400) for several years now, that Ukraine has been in a tough economic situation and unable to make its payments even at these discounted prices, and still, in spite of Ukraine’s inability to pay, Russia kept the gas flowing to Ukraine. And yes, President Putin mentioned, passingly, something about friendship, cooperation, and not letting our neighbors freeze to death in the winter, even if they can’t pay for the gas they are using to heat their apartments.

    We have come a long way since European countries had canonized Catholic saints as their leaders (see St. Louis King of France, St. Stephen and St. Laszlo Kings of Hungary), and anyone even bringing Christian principles into the discussion is looked at with suspicion. Yet, we must still insist on talking about such principles, and using such principles to guide our actions, because they will make the difference between war and peace, the difference between freezing to death or staying alive in the winter.

  • OmegaPaladin

    One thing I never get is why people want to be a Catholic but not believe in Catholic teaching. When I looked into becoming a Catholic, I realized that I would have to accept several beliefs with which I strongly disagreed. So I did not become a Catholic. (I’m a Lutheran, more or less) I’m not talking about behavior, obviously all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, but ideals. Why deliberately join an organization that you think is wrong?

    The era of Christians murdering each other over doctrine is over, thank the Lord. Someone who wants to worship Jesus Christ has any number of choices, so don’t try and demand that an ancient church change to accommodate your beliefs.

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