Time for a Truly Catholic Renovation

O magnum mysterium,
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,
iacentem in praesepio:
Beata Virgo, cuius viscera
meruerunt portare Dominum Christum.

What a great mystery,
what a wonderful sign,
that animals should see the Lord, new-born,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin, whose womb
was privileged to carry Christ the Lord.

      ∼  From the Roman Breviary, the Matins of Christmas

We’re in Rome, in the year 1572. The great Pope Pius V has passed to glory. Just one year before, the naval forces of the Holy League had crushed the superior fleets of the ever-marauding Turks at Lepanto, giving maritime Europe a chance to breathe free at last. Thereafter Pius designated the first Sunday of October to be the Feast of the Holy Rosary, after the prayers which he had bidden the soldiers to pray.

What else was there to be found in Rome? When the priests prayed, they did so from the revised Breviary that Pius had promulgated in 1570, following the recommendations of the Council of Trent. Theirs was the Mass we know as the “extraordinary rite,” that is, the ordinary rite in the Church for nearly four hundred years. What else? A young poet named Torquato Tasso, a tremendous admirer of that saintly soldier of Christ, was in the midst of conceiving and executing his epic romance of Catholic unity, Gerusalemme Liberata (Jerusalem Delivered). It will be second only to Dante’s Commedia in the illustrious history of Italian poetry.

We’re not yet in the Baroque era, but we are close. Artists have long been pushing beyond the bounds of the Roman and Greek classics they had loved so well. Michelangelo had died eight years before, and Caravaggio was yet but a small boy, but Titian, a hale ninety and over, was painting with the strokes of a French expressionist, three hundred years before their time. Giovanni Pierluigi Palestrina, the greatest composer of choral music who ever lived, was the recently appointed master of the choir at Saint Peter’s. Saint Philip Neri was there in the city too, and men and boys flocked to his “oratories,” private meditations upon Scripture, complete with musical arrangements of scriptural and devotional texts. Thus was born the musical genre we call the oratorio, and from the oratorio, the opera.

With Palestrina at that time was a young Spaniard, a deacon on his way to the priesthood. His name was Tomas Luis de Victoria. No doubt he was learning from the master; he would attend Palestrina’s funeral in Rome in 1594. From that year, 1572, comes his beloved motet O Magnum Mysterium, on the breviary text above. It is a haunting piece, beginning in a minor key with long-held notes, as if in the darkness of the night when Christ was born and laid in the manger. Its mood is one of awe in the presence of grandeur, finally spilling forth into a solemn and joyful run of alleluias. Who would sing it? Boys and men, from treble to bass. Imagine the clear voices of children ringing out within the great vast spaces under the arches and dome of Saint Mary Major, or the Sistine Chapel. It was a truly popular art, performed for the people’s feasts, and impossible to make real without the talents of ordinary lads with good voices, an ear for melody, and enough devotion to the mysteries of faith to bear them up through the long sessions of practice.

That was a phenomenal burst of Catholic creativity, artistic, musical, literary, and ecclesiastical. John of the Cross was in Avila with Teresa and the reformed Carmelites. Lope de Vega was a small boy in Madrid; Shakespeare was a mischievous young fellow in Stratford. Cervantes was already a grown man, fighting at Lepanto. Corneille, Racine, and Calderon were soon to come. Charles Borromeo was in Rome reforming the seminaries. His cousin Federigo would be the cardinal archbishop of Milan, funding the great Ambrosian library, the first truly public library in Europe. Both men were tireless servants of the poor, often putting their own lives in danger to be so. But then, Catholic missionaries were at work all over the world, in the far East, in India, in the jungles of South America, on the American plains, around the Great Lakes; learning the native languages, often defending the natives against other tribes or rapacious Europeans, teaching them to farm, to read, and to worship the living God.

It is four hundred years later.

I’m a boy in the eighth grade of Saint Thomas Aquinas School. There are 45 students in my class, slightly down from our high of 51. The school no longer exists. I have few but strong memories of Latin in the Mass. Latin has faded from people’s consciousness. Irish miners built our church. The mines have shut down, and the last coal breaking plant ceased operation a year or two before. In six years at the school, I’ve learned exactly nothing about Saint Thomas Aquinas.

I have never heard of that beautiful prayer from the Breviary. I have never heard a single piece of choral music by Palestrina, or Victoria, or Lassus, or any other Catholic composer, for that matter. My church had been covered with works of art. Some of it has been whitewashed away. A painting of angels above the sanctuary has been “renovated” to look as if the angels were floating in a bad television cartoon. The marble communion rail with mosaic Eucharistic symbols is gone.

Prayers are gone. They too were renovated into oblivion, I guess. We learned five or six in school, and that was all; the five we say for the rosary, and the Act of Contrition. The order of nuns who taught us, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, are in the midst of collapse, though we children didn’t know that yet.

I could recall the calendars that my grandmother got from De Rosa’s grocery store. They were Catholic calendars, with Sundays and holy days of obligation in red, names of the saints in black for their feast days, the emblem of a fish for each Friday and the weekdays of Lent, and the mysterious Latin word “Feria” for weekdays without a saint and outside of the great octaves. It was time, sanctified; to be replaced by time, blank.

We call those days of Luis de Victoria the Counter-Reformation, but it really was a profoundly Catholic age of renewal and vibrant creativity, a Catholic Reformation. What shall we call what we need now?

A Counter-Renovation?

I’m not interested in blaming Martin Luther, Lukas Cranach, and Johann Sebastian Bach for the image-smashing and prayer-forgetting and time-flattening that struck my church when I was a boy. They were not responsible. If there’s a thread connecting Bach with the Gather hymnal, it’s too thin and tangled to mean anything, and I’m not going to pursue it.

I’m also not interested in blaming the specific language of the documents of Vatican II. I can’t find anything in those documents that suggested it would be good to bury the breviary, or to fail to introduce children to the Church’s treasury of prayer. If there’s a thread to follow from Sacrosanctum Concilium to whitewash, it’s too circumstantial for me, and I’m not going to pursue it.

There is, however, a thread I will pursue.

Intellectuals are the great image-smashers. Sometimes, when they fall victim to the virus of pride, they scorn anything that cannot be reduced to propositions comprehensible to their capacious three-gallon intellects. And things of the body resist that reduction. The Babe in the manger is not a theological proposition. He is an infant child swaddled against the cold, sucking upon the breast of his mother Mary. It was not given to intellectuals to behold the Child first. It was not even given to the hardscrabble shepherds. After Mary and Joseph, the creatures who enjoyed that honor were the animals in the stable: those sad and innocent animals, nosing about the manger where they were accustomed to eat their hay. Hence that amiable legend of the common people, that on midnight of that first Christmas, the animals spoke; and we can only hope that intellectuals all the world over were struck dumb for once. I too would hold my peace!

The intellectuals despised the piety of the people for being too sweet, which it sometimes was; and replaced the pastries with sawdust. Catholic prayer had been steeped in theological reflection, as in that exclamation that Victoria set to music. Now it would be merely propositional and declarative, a death valley of dry bones. We ended up with a reformation suspicious of Scripture, an enlightenment of slogans, and a democratism rigidly enforced by clerics and religious against the desires of the people. We ended up with neither Palestrina nor Sweet Sacrament; neither John of the Cross nor Alphonsus Liguori. We ended up with bare walls, bad music, forgotten devotions, and empty pews.

So it is time for a truly Catholic Renovation. Roll up the sleeves, people!

Editor’s note: The image above titled “The Vision of St. Ignatius of Loyola” was painted by Peter Paul Rubens in 1617-18.

Anthony Esolen

By

Professor Esolen is a teaching fellow and writer in residence at Thomas More College of the Liberal Arts, in Merrimack, New Hampshire. Dr. Esolen is a regular contributor to Crisis Magazine and the author of many books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization (Regnery Press, 2008); Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child (ISI Books, 2010) and Reflections on the Christian Life (Sophia Institute Press, 2013). His most recent books are Reclaiming Catholic Social Teaching (Sophia Institute Press, 2014); Defending Marriage (Tan Books, 2014); Life Under Compulsion (ISI Books, 2015); and Out of the Ashes (Regnery, 2017).

  • orientstar

    Thank you for this piece. I sorrowfully agree with its content and hopefully (or is it
    prayerfully ) with its conclusion.

    • the gardener

      wonderful essay, as usual. I do look forward to your writing.

  • Professor Esolen: Once again, you clear away the debris and dirt, and expose the root of the problems which ail our poisoned culture. Thank you for writing this.

  • FernieV

    We may start by encouraging our parish priest to tell the choir to sing some of the classic hymns which no one has banned. In the church I attend we sing the Missa de Angelis some Sundays, the Adoro Te Devote on Thursdays, etc.
    The renewal of the Liturgy is mostly the job of bishops and priests, I guess, but all can foster them in whichever way we can.

    • Anglicanæ

      The renewal of the liturgy is most emphatically not mostly the job of the bishops. They are necessary but not sufficient for the life and renewal of the church.

      Here is my list of vivifying elements the pious faithful can engage on the authority of their high calling as members of the laos of God:

      (1) Home schooling. Here is where parents must band together and prime the tender hearts and minds to acquire a sense of beauty and truth in the cast of virtue. There are a few faithful private Catholic institutions willing to do the same.

      (2) Recovery of home devotionals and catechesis and hymnody. The beauty of church tradition must begin here. Parents must model the best of church worship at home. Buy old breviaries if money allows, and learn to pray some of the offices together. No bishop in the world can forbid traditional worship in the home. Let your homes be as little cathedrals in miniature. This will foster a grass roots culture.

      (3) Flood the local church with Bible studies and readings from the Fathers and prayer groups. This is no Protestant innovation – it’s deeply and authentically catholic.

      • FernieV

        Coulnd’t agree more with your agenda!

        • “Parents must model the best of church worship at home. ”

          I am currently watching a young girl, just about to hit the perilous age being ruined.

          Her devout mother died suddenly when she was very young,
          Within a period of months that could have as easily been measured in weeks the father became involved with a divorced woman with two kids by two different fathers. Initially, the relationship was represented as “play dates” for the girl and the woman’s child of near the same age.

          It wasn’t long before there were overnight visits, an extended period of cohabitation where the proceeds of an insurance policy were spent lavishy on the new consort, and a civil marriage.

          Advised by a friend since grade school about the likely perils of
          the relationship, the man in question ignored the dictum “bros before hos” and ended a friendship that endured decades.

          The marriage lasted all of two years-less than the shacking up, when the proligate spending of courtship gave way to the economies of marriage and, I’ll bet the easy physical comforts were less forthcoming. There was a contentious period of living together while the divorce was pursued.

          Even before the second wife moved out, The father began another relationship. Although he was now older, the new consort had a similar age and situation as the second wife, except her children were the product of one non-marital relationship and is smart enough to pretend to care about the daughter. She’s now moved in.

          This one man has been involved in scandalizing five children-what chance do any of these kids have?

          • St JD George

            Thanks for that deeply troubling sad story, as if that were isolated.

            • This is who the Kasperites represent.

              • St JD George

                Your heart can not help but ache for those kids who lost their faithful Mom and their light in the world.

                • The Devil has his crosshairs on those kids.

                  • St JD George

                    And his chains around the neck of the Dad it sounds like.

                    • It’s not the neck. Think South. An orchoectomy would do him wonders.

      • St JD George

        I’ll second that, bravo.

  • Anglicanæ

    That was majestic. Jealous I am not Roman Catholic today.

    • FernieV

      I think you should! I will pray for you.

    • St JD George

      It’s never to late. I became Catholic just last Easter and I am in my mid fifties. Don’t let silly obstacles get in your way on your path to seeking the truth, the way, and the life.

      • Anglicanæ

        I’ve met the Bread of Angels, dear brother. I am an arch-sinner who has no hope but in His mercy, His merits, and His passion. I am marked with the sign of the Holy Trinity, born of water and Spirit. I will submit to the bishop of Rome as the Magisterium requires once I am convinced that Papal Infallibility, my chief obstacle, truly represents the mind of the Church, the Fathers, and the Scriptures. It’s precisely because I take your communion way too seriously that I want to be a fully formed member in conscience and in conviction.

        It’s like going to the altar to say “I do” — don’t do it unless you are fully on board. There’s no greater disservice to your self and to the other than jumping in ahead of your conscience, even if your heart “feels good” about it.

        Pray for me, my family. I am an Anglican who loves Mother Rome from afar. I pray God will bridge that gap, as I’d love nothing more than to settle this once and for all.

        • St JD George

          Remember, infallibility is not universal, just in doctrinal affairs. Remember also Peter denied Christ 3 times as he foretold the morning of his crucifixion, and he still gave him the keys trusting in him and knowing more than you and I will ever, on earth. I to struggled with that and other things before I realized I was putting obstacles in my path to being in full communion with my Lord and Savior. I’d rather be in this barque with Peter discussing matters of faith than in the sea drowning without his grace to save me from myself.

          • Anglicanæ

            Dear brother, I would be not exaggerating if I told you I have over 2000 pages in books on this subject alone (defending the belief) in my humble library of over 500 books on theology, church history, great literature, liturgics, and philosophy. I get it: the pope can be a miserable, heretical jerk and declarations ex cathedra alone qualify as “infallible”. I have no problem with the idea of it (no intellectual stumbling blocks there): my only concern is to guard against a novelty against the mind of Christ and His Church.

            I have great respect for Rome. If I come under Her wing, I will do so as a convinced member. My heart is already Roman Catholic, my intellect is Anglican. It’s an existential struggle I wish on no man, but it’s where I am.

            • St JD George

              Reading the replies here I am sure you are aware many share in those same struggles. There were indeed some very unseemly and unholy popes in the past who clearly did not heed God’s call. A reminder that it is God’s will that will be done, and that the Pope is a man who puts his trowsers on in the morning like you or I, who has life experiences that shaped him like you or I, and is not infallible or all knowing in all matters, but has wisdom, deep faith, and is ever searching for how best to lead this flock of sinners to salvation. I like to think the path will lead us there, even if it doesn’t always appear to be the straightest path from A to B.

              • Anglicanæ

                Thank you for your kind and patient response. It’s a journey. I wish I could wave a magic wand and dispel this blockade to full communion. For now, prayer and study and fellowship with good catholics (like yourself) will have to do. 🙂

                • Consolatrix Afflictorum

                  God Bless you my friend. Seeing that you’re an Anglican, I assume that you have devotion to Our Blessed Lady. Stay close to Her for anyone who has ever fled to Her protection was ever left unaided.

                  • Anglicanæ

                    I have a great love for Our Mother. I trust Her devotion to and prayers for the sanctity of the Church will avail for me, along with all the saints who care for Christ’s Church.

                    Indeed She is the crowning work of God’s creation. The model disciple. I cannot speak enough praise for this saint of saints.

            • Catholic pilgrim

              Wait, why would you want to stay in the sinking, unapostolic Anglicanism? They have female “priestesses” & female “bishops”. Whatever their beliefs (whether Progressive, evangelical, or Anglo-“catholic”), they completely lack valid Sacraments (except for marriage & baptism). Whether it’s Articifial Contraception, Homosexuality, or Divorce, they officially approve of Sin (thus, mocking His Sacrifice on the Cross).
              Mister, you’re on board the Titanic, literally. Unless you like drowning, I suggest you hop in St. Peter’s Barque. Time does run out. Papal infallibility is a blessed thing. Had Anglicanism been gifted with it, they’d be in a better position today.

              • Anglicanæ

                (1) I am not in communion with the See of Canterbury. That apostate mess has left the Church long ago. There is an Anglican continuum that asserts traditional orthodoxy against The Episcopal Church and The Church of England.

                (2) Anglican orders are not Null and Void, in spite of Pope Leo XIII’s declaration (simply erroneous argumentation). Furthermore, it’s not an infallible dogma of the Church of the Rome to believe Anglican orders are invalid and neither is it an article of faith to hold it as such, and so

                (3) I do participate in the Body and Blood of Christ because there are faithful Anglican bishops in apostolic succession.

                That said, I confess the Seven Ecumenical Councils of the undivided Church, I accept all 73 books of Scripture, I uphold the Seven Sacraments, and believe only where validly ordained bishops (only men allowed in Holy Orders!) in apostolic succession are, there His Church is. I reject abortion and the evils of same sex attraction culture and their pretend “marriages”. Serial marriages plague our society and must be rejected too.

                • Catholic pilgrim

                  No, ALL Anglican orders (therefore, their Sacraments- except for Baptism & Marriage) are INVALID, period. Anglicanism is not even considered a “Church” by the Catholic Church, but rather an “ecclesial community”. Anglicanism is outside the Holy Catholic Church- completely lacking in Apostolic authority (unlike Eastern Orthodox who are simply schimastics).
                  I also have one: Where two or three gather in His holy Name, there is also Christ. True statements, but, so what? They doesn’t confer validity on anyone’s holy orders or Sacraments. You’re dreaming or delusional or plain stubborn if you think that Anglicanism (or whichever of its countless divisions & denominations) has valid orders/Sacraments.
                  Papal Infallibility is true. You wishing it to be one way or the other does not change the truth of it. I think your opposition to full Communion with the Catholic Church has more to do with emotional appeals than intellectual/rational merits. Have you ever considered this discussion with a (solid) Spiritual Director?

                  • Anglicanæ

                    The argumentation against Anglican orders is founded on fallacious argumentation. Have you read Pope Leo XIII’s reasons for saying so? I understand the arguments well, and they do not comport with history. Have you read the responses to the declaration?

                    Now if you are claiming one must believe Anglican orders are Null and Void in order to be received into the Roman Church, that places two obstacles. Even if I did accept Papal Infallibility, I have no historical basis for accepting the argumenta set forth in Leo’s declaration as they are demonstrably untrue.

                    I am not here to promote Anglicanism. I am here to support the Orthodox Roman Catholic cause. A healthy Roman Church is a boon to the world. I am not mad or offended that good Roman Catholics believe our orders are null because Rome can and has erred in the past. I love Rome warts and all. I just want to affirm Papal Infallibility with a clear conscience.

                    Thus far most Catholics have been very patient with me. Esolen and his ilk has led me to the precipice with love and wisdom. I am closer than ever. Just help me focus on the main and plain things.

                    • Catholic pilgrim

                      Sure, I could give you a few resources. First & foremost, The Catechism of the Catholic Church. Another is Cardinal Henry Newman’s (Catholic convert from Anglicanism) short essay on Papal Infallibility http://www.catholicapologetics.info/modernproblems/vatican2/newman.html
                      I remember once reading a few excellent paragraphs on Papal Infallibility by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (can’t remember the book, though).
                      Another good resource is to e-mail Father George Rutler (I believe he also converted to Catholicism from Anglicanism) and ask him for guidance on the issue; he has a brilliant mind & I’m sure would help. Two other resources are asking some of the Apologists at Catholic Answers website and EWTN Father Mitch Pacwa (a brilliant Jesuit whom I personally know). Hope I was of some help.

            • ForChristAlone

              I wish you well in your journey

              • Anglicanæ

                It’s rough, but worth it.

        • ForChristAlone

          Do you realize that only twice in the most recent few hundred years has a Pope spoken infallibly? It related to the Assumption of Mary and the Immaculate Conception. It simply reflected what had been a Church tradition from time immemorial.

          • Anglicanæ

            That’s what I’ve understood. Like I said, I have no problems with the concept, just whether it is true. St. Peter, pray for me!

            • St Donatus

              Hi Anglicanae, Oddly I myself came to the Catholic Church partially BECAUSE of the bad Popes. I found it miraculous that there could be such bad Popes and yet the Catholic Church continues to follow the same teachings that were handed to it by Christ. Some of those bad Pope were notorious for their children and sexual exploits. With the power the Pope has, he could have worked toward marriage for clergy or perhaps legalizing concubines as were the case in ancient Israel. But in the end, Holy Spirit prevented it. Today we again have those that would promote teachings that are most obviously not in alignment with the teachings of Christ like same sex ‘marriage’, blessing of non-marriage sexual unions, abortion, contraception, fornication, and much more. But there have been these throughout the Churches history and yet none have had success because of the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit. The most they have been able to do is cause the ignoring of the Churches teachings as we see in Germany today. God Bless you in your journey.

  • lifeknight

    Oh, the memories!
    Like you, I can’t even try to unravel the disintegration of Catholic music, prayers, and liturgy.

  • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

    The ‘worldly traveler’, the modern intellectual in an early version:

    “When the sound of the bell that precedes the blessed sacrament was overheard in the theaters of Madrid, audience and actors alike would fall to their knees. A worldly 17th century traveler comments “it is difficult not to laugh”.
    – Kenelm Digby, MORES CATHOLICI Vol. 2, Pg. 57

  • Tasso’s epic was not only stirring and brilliant it was wildly popular. Venetian gondoliers memorized vast portions of the poem and shouted it across the city’s canals to one another. Ours is an age that is deaf to poetry: the medium to which we turn, St. Thomas tells us, when the thing we contemplate does not find sufficient expression in rhetoric or prose. Thanks to Tony for preserving these truths. Perhaps one day a more deserving generation will find Tasso on the shelf, blow off the dust, and start memorizing. Perhaps that generation is just now being born. Speramus!

  • sonny

    Part of my prayers is not to forget the heart of Catholic liturgy that touched my juvenile years: “Puer natus in Bethlehem…” at Advent, “Exsultet jam angelica turba caelorum…” at Easter, serving a Gregorian Mass for the dead and at an occasional “De Profundis…” service for the departed, and attending weekly conventual Mass w/ priest, deacon, sub-deacon after being sprinkled with holy water to the strains of “Asperges me …”

    … and that the juxtaposition of embattled pious devotion and current secular forces will always be in favor of His grace!

  • St JD George

    I always look forward to your articles Anthony, bravo, again.

    • guest

      absolutely!!

    • And I look forward to receiving a copy of his latest book.

      • St JD George

        Me too, meant to put that on my Christmas list but then forgot.

      • Anglicanæ

        Dr. Esolen is a staple in our household. The kind soul even said I could meet up with him if we ever found ourselves in his neck of the woods.

      • Susan

        I just finished it! It is very good!!

  • guest

    Thank you for not using Vatican II as a whipping post. Many of these new ideas of “Wreakovation” (both in buildings and thought and prayers) are the result of those wanting Catholics to become something we never were or aspired to become. I too have read many (although not done yet with all) of the documents of Vatican II and was surprised to find they did not call for the most egregious changes that have been wrought. I agree it is time for a Catholic Renovation and I feel in some quarters it is already in progress, although slowly. But like any new approach or idea it must first catch fire to spread. The good news is that the embers of change have been lit and now just need the fuel of time to spread. Thank you again for another great post.

  • samharker

    “The order of nuns who taught us, the Immaculate Heart of Mary…”

    Are you referring to the Sister Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, whose motherhouse is in Monroe, Michigan?

  • Consolatrix Afflictorum

    Just a little insight from this ignorant and miserable sinner, I think that the loss of the Traditional Liturgy was much more damaging than was ever thought. The Holy Mass is the center of the Christian life and when you try to tinker with the most venerable rite in Christendom, you know that something destructive is going to happen.

    However, we must never despair! In the future, the Traditional liturgy will keep growing and there will be more reverent celebrations of the Ordinary Form! It will take time, but, God Willing, the Church will leave this dark night and will be incredibly resplendent! One day!

    Pray for me, the chief of sinners.

  • Dick Prudlo

    I do not believe Mr. Esolen is being simply nostalgic, nor does he give that impression. But is it not that nonsense we hear when we seek to bring something back to our parishes that has been discarded? Our Catholic treasure has been destroyed and replaced by a fatuous kindergarten liturgy and absolutely no doctrine useful to salvation. The experts who have guided the church with their hubris and high powered credentials lay at the fault line as Mr. Esolen points out.
    In my view the counter revolution has been going on for sometime now under the guise of institutes, fraternities, blogs, orthodox news papers, and societies and will continue no matter how many visitations are plied by the Vatican.

  • hombre111

    You write with longing for the good old days, filled with pain by the reality you now see in the Church. I doubt if most Catholics would recognize your description of their modern Catholic world.

    I celebrated four English Masses last weekend: at the 5:00 on Saturday, seven hundred people jammed the place. When the Mass was over, they applauded. There were about five hundred people at the 8:00, and almost seven hundred again at the 10:00. The 10:00 was with a new, well prepared choir, and again, people applauded. At 6:00 Sunday, I celebrated a humble little Mass with female prisoners at the penitentiary. For me, it is always the most special Mass of them all. At some of the Masses, I saw the few people with arms grimly folded, willing themselves out of the community, enraged because they are the dissatisfied citizens of a vanished world.

    • When the Mass was over, they applauded.
      You think this is a good thing? Did you show a movie in lieu of a homily?

      • Consolatrix Afflictorum

        “I am very glad to have come here. But if I must express a wish, it is
        that in church you not shout out, that you not clap your hands, and that
        you not greet even the Pope, because ‘templum Dei, templum Dei.'”
        -Pope St. John XXIII

      • Anglicanæ

        Yes, I break out in hives whenever I hear applause at a Church (thankfully rare). I once read St. John Chrysostom’s congregation would do so after his homilies. I will make an exception there: if Hombre’s sermons were that penetrating and transforming, then I suspect an applause is appropriate. Until then, it strikes me as so much theater — might as well get the mimes and jugglers out (I hope I’m wrong, but I suspect a clown mass or two in our dogged liberal’s closet).

        • Micha Elyi

          When I’m visiting one of those ‘applause’ parishes, after mass I sometimes ask one of the parish’s regulars, “I’m new here, what was everybody applauding when the mass ended?” The most common answer is, “I don’t know, we just do it.” The next most common is, “It’s for the choir.”

          When I reply that the mass is worship, not a performance, I’m greeted by blank stares. If I point out that the greatest moment of the mass was when Jesus entered body, blood, soul, and divinity to be with us and ask why didn’t people applaud then, my interlocutor is probably sure I’m a kook.

          • ForChristAlone

            Very interesting Micha. Let me share with you an experience I had in Guadalajara Mexico when I attended a retreat there a few years back that was sponsored by the Vatican. There were about 500 present – mostly bishops, priests and lay persons from all the Americas. One afternoon there was Eucharistic adoration in the large auditorium where the talks were being held. The Sacred Species was being returned to the chapel for reposition after adoration and all of a sudden spontaneous applause broke out throughout the entire hall, with most being down on their knees. It acknowledged the Lord of the Universe who saved us from our sins. Now THAT was applause which made sense; it transcended the moment.

      • hombre111

        My people tell me the liturgy is prayerful and spiritually uplifting, I give a solid, well-prepared sermon, and they leave both challenged and fed. Sooo, the modern liturgy, done well, does not have to lean on Palestrina

        • Aldo Elmnight

          If your people are applauding in the church I would not place much stock in their judgment of your liturgy.

          • hombre111

            Oh, the shock, the shame. Expressing emotion and approval in church!

            • Anglicanæ

              The highest mystery of the ages happens before you, and the best you can do is clap? If everybody fell to their faces in fear and adoration, that would strike me as authentic. I get weirded out when RC congregations don’t kneel at the mystery of the Incarnation in the Nicene Creed.

              • ForChristAlone

                EXACTLY! If Hombre and his crew really knew what was happening at that altar, they’d be down on their knees in awe. But then again God is just another fellow down the street to drink a beer with.

              • ForChristAlone

                “I get weirded out when RC congregations don’t kneel at the mystery of the Incarnation in the Nicene Creed.”

                Or have the temerity to stand and say “Lamb of God” Trust me, those of us who will get to behold the Lamb of God in heaven will be prostrate in homage, awe and adoration. There could be no other response.

              • hombre111

                Actually, this is an Anglophile thing, from people who imagine that solemn silence is the only appropriate response. The Psalms say clap your hands. Augustine commented on the noise and enthusiasm of congregations in his day.

                • Anglicanæ

                  The logic is twisted. The Psalms didn’t prescribe clapping liturgically, as if Jesus went to synagogue and clapped during the chanting of the Psalms.

                  The general command to cheer the victory of God in the OT does not translate into what we do with clapping here in the West.

                  • hombre111

                    Sorry, but the Jews surely did. Some dancing, too.

                    • Anglicanæ

                      Back in 1994, my pastor, Dr. Arthur Steltzer (RIP) was a Near East and Hebrew scholar, and was on the committee for translation of the NIV (for the book of Hosea I believe) lived in Eritrea as a missionary for many years, and deeply studied in Jewish culture and religion, not to mention well-travelled in those regions– he would have profoundly disagreed with you on a historical basis. Sure, he was an austere Calvinist, so it’s probably his Anglophilia talking.

                      Apparently these Jews disagree with you about synagogue etiquette too:

                      http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/ettiquette.html

                    • hombre111

                      In one of my parishes the neighbor across the street was a Jewish rabbi. We asked him to help us with a Seder meal. When we gathered together, he saw how sober we all were. “What is the matter with you?” he asked. The Seder meal was a party! and he taught us some songs and showed us how to dance. So, that was what Jesus was doing, the night before he died.

                    • Anglicanæ

                      “Jewish rabbi…” Reform Jews: “great” source of traditional Hebrew religion.

                      Besides, even if this person was a Hasidic Jew of the sternest stuff, their Seder meal isn’t Synagogue liturgical worship.

                      Context, context, context.

                    • hombre111

                      Hasidic Jews didn’t show up until much later in Jewish history. Yes, context is everything. That is the service my rabbi did for my Catholic community. Jesus would have followed the script, until the moment he took the bread and then the wine at the end of the meal. The apostles fell asleep because of their several glasses of wine.

                    • Anglicanæ

                      I grant Hasidic Jews came much later. Point is you gravitate toward the more liberal elements to justify your assertion of what Jesus did or didn’t do (as if the text was explict on the matter). Also I note you ignore or forget other elements in the Gospel narrative, namely, Jesus was making His fast approaching crucifixion the theme of the supper; Jesus also makes mention a traitor is in His midst. But, let’s dance and drink as if none of that colored the mood or character of the event.

                      Okay, so let’s take this out of the realm of cursory speculation into studied guesswork: what reputable scholarship or works do you propose one should read to get to the likelihood of the matter?

            • When do the altar servers hold up the sign that says “clap”?

              • ForChristAlone

                Laugh of the day….thanks (my wife wonders what I’m reading when I chuckle aloud).

        • GG

          How many hours of adoration?

          • hombre111

            My parish has a beautiful adoration chapel, and 24hours adoration.

            • GG

              I expected that answer before I typed the question. You are so predictable. Here is the spin we have come to expect. You portray your world as ultra Left and seemingly intellectual. You eschew anything that may be associated with tradition.

              You expect us to believe everlasting truth is relative and that you have a busy and overflowing parish that uses left wing nonsense but has the earmarks of Catholicity. It is a potemkin village you give us. Not buying any of it.

              • hombre111

                Mmm, no. My beautiful parish, adoration chapel and all, flourishes in the mainstream, without your right wing rigidities. Because I stand for the official church when I preach and teach, I keep my left wing opinions to myself. In my old age, I emphasize instead experience with God, love of Jesus, and trying to understand what it means to live with his heart and mind. If I am going to say anything you would consider radical, I back it up with a quote from the Council or from the social teachings of the Church. Some of my parishioners whisper that I am a saint. Heh, heh.

    • Aldo Elmnight

      I am sure there were people on Calvary (what the Mass re-presents) that appaulded to.

      • hombre111

        I don’t see the Mass as a re-presentation of Calvary, which sounds like theater, but as participation in the actual moment of Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection. It is a moment forever in God’s time, with no past or future. We follow the ancient Jewish ritual of remembering, which Jesus was doing at the Last Supper. The Jews sensed that they were one with the Exodus, marching with Moses. In Mass, we are one with Christ, in the eternal now of his giving to the Father.

        • Consolatrix Afflictorum

          Twenty-Second Session of the Council of Trent, Chapter II:

          “And forasmuch as, in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the mass, that same Christ is contained and immolated in an unbloody manner, who once offered Himself in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross.”

          https://history.hanover.edu/texts/trent/ct22.html

    • GG

      Applauding what?

      The ones with folded arms may grasp the the gravity of the situation.

      • hombre111

        They are choosing to be spiritually absent. It’s OK, if being gloomy floats your boat.

        • Are you 76 going 7? You can’t tell the difference between solemn or reverent and gloomy? Then again, it just might be aphasia.

        • GG

          Talk about judgement. Wow. Is that how you evangelize?

    • M

      You clearly attract the faithful with your joyful spirit, hombre111. Our church also fills with enthusiastic participants for Sunday Mass. The church has seating for over 800 people, but If you don’t get to Mass 10 minutes early, you have to perch on a window ledge at the back. When those spots are taken, the ushers and volunteers set up folding chairs wherever they can. We average about 100 people at weekday Masses. Our church is light and beautiful, the Masses are always uplifting, and we leave feeling nourished and fortified.

      • GG

        How often is confession and how well attended?

      • hombre111

        Praise God. The Church might not be in the tailspin Crisis imagines.

        • It’s definitely not in the ascent you hallucinate to be.

          • ForChristAlone

            He makes it up as he goes along. Pity the poor fellow.

      • RufusChoate

        Could you detail where and who exactly this is about? I suspect a second account for a pathetic narcissist.

    • Guest

      You want to put your hands together to express appreciation of a good Mass? Put your hands together, cross your thumbs, and pray That’s the type of applause that God likes.

    • Joseph

      You want to put your hands together to show appreciation of a well-said Mass? Put your hands together, cross your thumbs, and pray. That’s the type of applause God loves.

      • hombre111

        The applause is spontaneous. In appreciation for a prayerful, deeply spiritual experience. The celebration style of the priest, and a good choir, are essential. As I said, the church is crowded because the people feel spiritually fed.

        • bonaventure

          The building is crowded because unrepentant sinners get confirmed in their sins.

          That’s also the reason why, suddenly, all the celebrities from Hollywood and the world of politics want to have an audience with Francis. Because they believe he is condoning their evil ideologies.

          • hombre111

            Yessir, what those sinful Catholics need is some finger wagging and a chewing out, all in the name of a loving Christ.

    • ForChristAlone

      and if you give a bad homily, they should boo? Guess what, Hombre111, it’s not about you.

      • hombre111

        Booing might help. The biggest single gripe people have about Mass is boring, unprepared sermons.

        • ForChristAlone

          No, the single biggest gripe that people have is liturgies that are centered around the priest and not around Christ. As The Baptist said, “I need to decrease and He needs to increase.”: Unfortunately, the bell-bottom priests of the 60’s don’t get that.

          • hombre111

            You’re giving your age away. Those guys are retired, now. The biggest gripe, at least in my diocese, is the fact that so many priests are from Latin America, Africa, or Vietnam, and their English is terrible. I have attended their Masses, and sympathize with the people. Sermons are a throwaway. That is when you give thanks for relatively good music and Communion. The young people, who lack the loyalty of their parents, stay away in droves.

            • bonaventure

              Nah. What really drives people away from the Church are priests like you who preach on the benefits of sin. And I suppose that’s also the reason that those who choose to listen to you applaud.

              Because the more they sin, the more they need to silence their conscience, and their applause — together with your condoning words — do exactly that.

              Each “celebration” with you is one step away from Christ.

              • hombre111

                Since you have never attended one of the Masses I help celebrate, you are guilty of slander, which is a grievous sin, sir.

                • bonaventure

                  What you “celebrate” at “Mass” is no different from what you regularly celebrate in your Disqus posts: sin. Unless you are a double-faced hypocrite.

                  • hombre111

                    Were you there, bonnie, when I celebrated the 5:00 Mass this evening?

                    • bonaventure

                      Yes, I was.

                    • hombre111

                      I need some bona fides. How did I instruct the people to shake hands during the kiss of peace?

                    • bonaventure

                      You didn’t.

                      And even if you do give instructions, few in your congregation of clapping fools understand the Kiss of Peace anyway, as neither do you. They think it’s the “tingling in the leg,” a la Chris Matthews.

                      And remember one thing: two sinners (homosexuals, adulterers, etc) smooching each other because they believe to be “in love” is not the “kiss of peace” but the kiss of Judas.

                    • hombre111

                      Tsk. Caught in the act, bonnie. I told the people that, since it is the height of the flu season, to forego the kiss of peace.

                    • bonaventure

                      Tsk. Caught in the act

                      I’ll quote your “Tsk. Caught in the act” every time you post a theological, spiritual, moral, and pastoral lie. Which is, like, always.

                      Beside, I really was at your Mass. Each and everyone of them. Every Sunday. I am the man in the pews whom you hate because I was wretched and saved, lost and found, blind and healed — but not by your Sacred Cow; rather saved from it.

                    • hombre111

                      Pitiful, bonnie. Your namesake was better than that.

                    • bonaventure

                      St. Bonaventure had a sharp tongue against apostates (i.e., the liberals of his time, mostly Gnostics and early Nominalists).

                      But then again, most Saints, Church Fathers, and Doctors of the Church had a sharp tongue — such that would have scandalized into oblivion any liberal today.

                      So, then, how was your preaching today, Papito? Did you explain for the Xth time to your clapping parishioners the psycho-motor benefits of cheating on one’s spouse?

                    • hombre111

                      Mmm, let’s see. First of all, Jesus goes into the Jordan, the Spirit comes down, and the Father proclaims his Son. The Blessed Trinity. I remind the people to consider their own baptisms and the same encounter with the Trinity. I tell them that holiness is a process, and each year, the Church brings us to this moment, asking us to consider our Baptism, and say yes. I tell them it was the Father speaking and their hearing their own name. God proclaims his love, and they accept.

                      Next, I remind them that this is the First Sunday in Ordinary Time. We have come down from the heights, from the sound of Angels and the mystery of the reaching arms of a child. Now, we go into our ordinary lives, which will be joy and sorrow, triumph and failure. I ask them to walk with Jesus as goes away from the Jordan into his mission.

                      I ask them to think of some difficult question or struggle they face. Imagine walking alone, dealing with it, not finding the strength. Then, suddenly, Jesus is by their side. “Explain your struggle to him,” I tell them. “Explain it until you know he understands.” And then let him take your hand. Why are you facing all of this alone?

                      But then, I say, let him look through the heavy pack you are carrying. Your possessions, your responsibilities, your worries. What does he want you to leave behind? I ask. When does he fault you for your lack of courage and trust. Or honesty? Or patience? Take him into your home. What would he consider essential for your life there? What is simply clutter? When you tell him you can’t let it go, he simply nods. Maybe next year, when we meet again at this time. But I also remind the people that sickness, loss, and failure might take those things away from us before we celebrate this feast again, and they will realize they had little value.

                      And so on. The people are completely silent as I speak.

                • ForChristAlone

                  It is impossible to slander an anonymous person. Actually, there is no person behind your nom de plume. For all we know, a very well-programmed robot could be issuing your repsonses. Besides, it is not your style to guilt monger; you should leave that to the pre-Vatican II crowd.

    • RufusChoate

      Weren’t the good old days when the Savior walked the earth? Why is it that the new day that you on the Left embrace with such ardor so similar to the ancient Pagan world complete with Sodomy, Infanticide and Priestesses rather than Christian?

  • John O’Neill

    God bless Professor Esolen again and again. He is a noble respite from the mundane essence of the Francis church and its mad drive to put us back into the desolation of the post Vatican II church where beauty and truth were savaged badly by the teachers and leaders of what was called the Catholic Church. The beauty of the traditional Catholic Church is a rare jewel which we were privileged to experience, those of us born before Vatican II, The memories of the “adoro te devote”, “ave verum”, “in paradisum” still bring solace and joy to those of us now forced to sit out our remaining years in exile.

  • Mike

    With the Church in America controlled by Modernist bishops and cardinals, the chance of a Catholic reformation happening is nihl. 95% of all adult catholics receive their entire education on Catholic morals from the Sunday homily. But since the clergy refuses to preach about homosexuality, birth control, pornography and abortion the chances for a well informed, spiritual Catholic populus are poor. So, the downward spirial of Catholocism will continue….until this current generation of clergy has died.

    • I notice the amount of grey hair in Church, including a few more angling for space on my own head.

  • St JD George

    Anybody remember who documented this goal (no. 27) in the 50’s and what’s its stated purpose was (among the other 45):

    Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with “social” religion. Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity which does not need a “religious crutch.

    • Is that the Cleon Skousen book you are referencing?

      • St JD George

        Yes of course.

        • I may have to reorder my reading list.

          • St JD George

            The book is good but predictable (today I mean, knowing their agenda), and so just reading the 45 goals is the best reminder of the forces at work and their plans. Once you start crossing them off as having been accomplished its pretty eye opening.

  • Dan

    “You have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, and revealed them to little children”
    I remember Cardinal Arinze being asked once if pro-abortion politicians should receive Communion. He responded that you don’t need a Cardinal in the Church to tell you the answer, just ask a 2nd grader preparing for her 1st Communion.
    If you ask the average person who doesn’t have a degree in Liturgy from Notre Dame, how a Church should be designed, he or she will tell you. People instinctively know the order and beauty of a Church that lifts their mind and heart to God from an ugly one from outer space. Just ask the many brides planning their wedding, they almost always want to be married in a beautiful traditional Church, even if they themselves have little practice of the faith.

  • Guest

    I could not free more. There are some already at work on this renovation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SMLinOVi7c

  • Frank La Rocca

    I could not agree more. There are some already at work on this renovation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SMLinOVi7c

    • Thomas A. Szyszkiewicz

      That is truly beautiful, Frank. Very well done.

      • Frank La Rocca

        Thank you, Thomas. There are many other Catholic composers out there to discover, among which I recommend very highly James MacMillan.

  • James Martin

    Professor Esolen (and everyone else). If you wish to pursue the thread, then I would suggest that you read the Liturgical Revolution trilogy by Michael Davies, if you haven’t already. Davies was a man who fully recognised that the aim and achievement of liturgical reform was to protestantize the mass, and to thereby decatholicize belief. It is Satan’s work, and always has been, to destroy the mass, since the mass is his perpetual defeat.

  • ForChristAlone

    Anthony, Why not give up the gig at Providence, move your family South to Front Royal VA where you can teach at Christendom College, attend Mass at St John the Baptist in Front Royal and immerse yourself in the true Catholic culture that is the diocese of Arlington? You deserve the best and so do your prospective students at Christendom. Don’t let that tenure thing hold you back. It would be an early taste of heaven.

  • Joseph

    The best ‘counter-rennovation’ would be to remove that freestanding dinner table (a.k.a. the altar) and use the one against the back wall of the church, so that the priest faces liturgical East.

  • Susan

    Good article and I’m with you! So much of what is written on the Church these days is more like bickering about this theological concept or the other; and every time it reminds me of Bernadette de Soubirous…. Humble and simple, couldn’t even learn her Catechism well, but she soaked in what was essential in pleasing God. The lives of the Saints, what a gift to us!!

  • accelerator

    “I’m also not interested in blaming the specific language of the documents of Vatican II. I can’t find anything in those documents that suggested it would be good to bury the breviary, or to fail to introduce children to the Church’s treasury of prayer. If there’s a thread to follow from Sacrosanctum Concilium to whitewash, it’s too circumstantial for me, and I’m not going to pursue it.

    There is, however, a thread I will pursue.

    Intellectuals are the great image-smashers.”

    But that’s just it. The language of Vatican II is the language of the intellectual. Propositions that were taken for granted were compromised in a morass of words. See O’Malley’s study of the thing. Theology matters. Words mater. Vatican II did wreak havoc. And Catholics determined to not see that, and to instead chant mantras about St. John Paul the Great, etc… don’t get it.

  • littleeif

    Like you, Mr. Esolen, the Latin left my life when I was a little boy along with the prayers, the music, the things I had known the Church to be. Isn’t it significant that we still remember, even after all these years, and long for something from the Church to replace it all? For my part, what I miss the most is the contemplation of the Divine the old Mass and the old ways inspired. I was told that was all wrong, that the Mass is about community, and perhaps so, but no one said where I am to go to sit again at the feet of the Lord. And like you, I have never wished to go forth in bitterness to what should be joyful, yet I am quite sure it is those few years that have thus far sustained me in my faith to the extent I have kept it. Yes, I wish again for just something of the old way before my eyes close a last time.

    • St Donatus

      I find your comment here interesting. I too remember just a bit of the Church before the ‘reform’. It’s beauty and holiness. The same beauty and holiness of most of those fellow Catholics in their faith. You say the it is that old Church the sustains you today. I left the Church for over 30 years (I was raised in the ‘new’ Church) but it was the beauty and holiness that brought me back. I found a FSSP parish that was established by our Bishop for the those who love the Tridentine Mass. Sadly, there are now millions who never knew the old Mass and the old Church. Most have a weak and ignorant faith. We see the result with an estimated 85% of children raise Catholic, no longer attending Mass by age 25. Thankfully in the ‘Traditional’ Mass communities that rate is reversed. The worst I ever hear is when a child can’t find a Tridentine Mass and joins a Novus Ordo parish. This sometimes means a slow destruction of the faith they started out with but usually it means that they will bring their zeal into that NO parish. It is like a war. We must suffer the effects of the destruction until the enemy is overcome.

      • littleeif

        Just some anecdotes from that era: I remember vividly Benedictine nuns in full habit stopping our playground to pray the Angelus at noon, or to pray a Hail Mary when an ambulance siren was heard. I remember priests in full cassock. I remember one of our four Parish priests praying the breviary alone in a darkened church.

        To be an altar boy, we had to memorize the Mass in Latin, both the exhortations and the responses. We were tested. I recall four server high Masses and two server low Masses. We advanced to various ranks, such as Acolyte and Censor. I remember serving many Benedictions, funerals and weddings.

        Then suddenly I became twelve. It all changed. Shortly thereafter one of our parish priests married a divorced teacher and left the priesthood. A second left the Church and became an Episcopalian priest. At least that’s the way I remember it.

        • St Donatus

          Yes, how the nuns taught us to love God at every moment. We need prayer at noon to keep us close to God throughout the day. Sadly, the nuns are mostly gone and most of those remaining are very old and very liberal. As Pope Paul said, ‘Satan has entered the Church’.

          Thankfully though the Holy Spirit continues to work through God’s Church. There are parishes like mine where the priests wear full cassock, Mass is in Latin, the sermons are strong and help us grow closer to God, there are at leasts eight altar boys at high Masses and two at low Masses. They go up through the ranks and the highest ranked one is the Master of Ceremonies. They are all members of the Altar Guild. We have a parish of about 300 members with more than 30 altar BOYS.

          The Church is quiet before and after Mass as parishioners start arriving thirty minutes early to prepare in prayer for receiving the Body of Christ then stay after for ten or more minutes to thank God for the graces we gain through his body. Then most go down to associate in a ‘community’ atmosphere in the basement for breakfast or lunch. The average family size is about seven but some are as large as 14. It is like walking back in time and such a blessing for me as it helps me grow closer to God and NOT closer to the world.

          Interestingly, one of our priests had a series of ‘vocations’ meetings for the young ladies and the average attendance for all five days was 30. (Of course the young men get the same information through the Altar Guild.) I feel truly blessed to have a parish like this. Yes, I must drive 60 miles each way to another city to go to Mass and other gatherings but that is about average for those that attend. Sadly, the majority of the Catholics in the area would rather take the easy route and go to the local diocese parish where they are not challenged, where the homilies are like wet toast, limp and untasteful. Where they ‘visit’ with each other in the sanctuary right up to Mass leaving no time to visit with God before and after Mass, where the sanctuary looks like a dance floor with more Extraordinary Ministers, Altar girls, lectors, etc than there are in the pews.

          When Catholics come to visit our parish, it is truly culture shock. They realize that this parish demands more from the laity than just sitting there with a blank stare. The young people seem to like the challenge but many of their parents, like the pharisees of Jesus time have become comfortable and don’t want to be challenged. They would rather watch their faith wither than put forth any effort. I can say that because that was me before I left the Church. Let us all pray for our Mother Church.

          • Tony

            Please let us all know where this oasis is to be found!

            • St Donatus

              The Church I attend has priests from the Fraternity of St Peter or FSSP. They are very good priests who have helped me grow so much. Of course, if someone is not willing to listen to them when they tell you must change, as Jesus told those he spoke to that they must change, you won’t get anything out of it. Sadly, they were only started in 1987 by St Pope John Paul the II so they only have about 500 priests world wide. But they only started out with eight so they are growing quickly. They must be invited into the diocese by the bishops and there are still a lot of bishops that like the destruction of the Church as it has been going. But their is so much demand for their priests from bishops who do want them, that there are not enough to go around.

              One thing I have found is that if you can find a ‘Latin Mass’ parish that is in line with the Church, they will be like my parish. I am sure there are some that are as great as ours, but the ones I have visited are so much better than the regular run of the mill Catholic parish that a long drive makes it worth it. We have people that drive two hours every sunday to get to Mass at our parish in Colorado Springs.

  • Allison Grace

    We read our way through the CCC (secretly, as my husband was a pentecostal pastor!) and came into full communion ten years ago. I long for what you describe, although we’ve never experienced it.

  • veritasetgratia

    Yes. I too remember catholic school days throughout . One very religious sister although I did not realise it at the time, taught “the appropriate disposition to receive the Sacraments” and prepared us for the Sacraments. I am eternally grateful for Mother Baptist! There were 50 in my class – what were to become baby boomers. We crowned the Blessed Virgin Queen of the May with a wreath of flowers on May 1 in the School Hall, all singing. But for an unknown reason, when the Beatles arrived in our City I think 1964, the Sisters allowed the high schoolers to come to the same Hall where we watched them arrive and be transported to the City, and amazingly then the Hall was filled with screaming girls – the sisters appeared to have been unprepared for this. Like yourself, when I consider what they might have taught us but didnt. I was very frustrated to find out that Padre Pio was very much alive and inspiring thousands of italians and was even well known outside italy, but no mention of him ever gained traction where I was. But the screw turns now. Here I am Catechist in a government school 8th grade of boys, and we are plumbing the basics – Is there a God? Is there a human soul? Who is Jesus? Why is authority good? Why is structure good? Why is marriage good? A fellow Catechist working in this same boys high school, likewise has scrappy memories of his Catholic schooling – one good teacher. He lived off the food of Year 3 until into adult years. I lived off the food from Year 2! Whilst the conversion of St. Augustine proves every guess wrong, it grieves to meet very young people who appear to have decided in favour of themselves, believing that it is a choice for happiness or not. Perhaps the saying “we are barely saved” is always going to be true.

  • James

    Intellectuals are the great image-smashers. Sometimes, when they fall victim to the virus of pride, they scorn anything that cannot be reduced to propositions comprehensible to their capacious three-gallon intellects.

    Nailed it.

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