ASK FATHER: Why should I remain Catholic when the Church doesn’t seem to believe her own message?

From a reader…

Why should I remain Catholic and believe the Catholic Church’s, when the Church HERSELF doesn’t even seem to believe In her own message?

I attend Mass with my family weekly, mostly to maintain spiritual harmony in our home. However, I sit in the pew of the modern parish, stoic and silent. I am essentially non-practicing. I have to say that the ecumenical lovefest in Lund was the final nail in my Catholic coffin

I am getting emails like this with greater frequency.

Another:

With the recent comments of the Holy Father about young persons and the Latin Mass…as a young person it hurt me immensely and at times has made me feel as if I have no place in the Church and limited to doubts. Pray for me. Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated. All I want to do is be faithful to the Catholic Church, that is all I want, but things seem so dark lately. I am doing my best, I go to Mass and Confession every week. … Pray for a strengthening in my faith, I don’t want to doubt, and I don’t want to fear about the Pope. This is all foolishness on my part, but I ask for prayers on my behalf. That I can be faithful to the Church ALWAYS. I understand a response might not be possible, I know you are busy, but prayers are all I ask for.

How to respond?

First things first:

Brethren, be strengthened in the Lord, and in the might of his power. Put you on the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places. Therefore take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of justice, And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace: In all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one. And take unto you the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God). By all prayer and supplication praying at all times in the spirit; and in the same watching with all instance and supplication for all the saints: And for me, that speech may be given me, that I may open my mouth with confidence, to make known the mystery of the gospel. For which I am an ambassador in a chain, so that therein I may be bold to speak according as I ought.

These words from Ephesians speak to me today in a special ringing way.  I’ve determined that I need to make a few changes to my own prayer life in order to deal with this onslaught, which weighs heavily on my mind and heart.

Now, let me speak as I ought.

We are living in very strange times, in which many things seem upside down.  The Enemy can take advantage of our disorientation to urge us in directions which, in more stable days, we would never consider.

Does anyone here really think that the Devil is not roaming the earth like a roaring lion seeking whom he might devour?  I firmly believe that.  It is the sole goal of the Enemy to steal souls from heaven so that God will have just that much less glory, that there will be just that much less joy.  Therefore, the Enemy will target the Church that Christ founded, through whose mediation every soul is saved.

Never underestimate the savagely cruel, relentlessly clever work of the Enemy of our souls.  When I signed up, when I became a Catholic, I committed to what I was in for… though you never really know what you are in for, until you are actually in it.

“But things are going so wrong now!”, some say.

In the satirical writings, dialogues, of the 14th c. Italian author Boccaccio there is story about a Jew who has to go to Rome for something.  The local Bishop has been trying to get the Jew to convert the Christianity.  Knowing the Jew was about to see the Church at its worst in Rome, the corruption and moral turpitude of many of the clerics and religious, even Popes like the Borgias, the Bishop despaired that the Jew would ever covert on his return.   However, once returned from his trip, the Jew went to the Bishop and said, “I’m ready to convert now!”  The Bishop, flabbergasted, replied, “You went to Rome and you saw how horrid things were there… and you still want to join this Church?”  “Yes”, said the Jew. “I figure that with so many wicked and corrupt people hard at work trying to destroy the Church, it shouldn’t have lasted 14 years, much less 14 centuries.  It has to be of divine origin!”

The Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ.  That fact alone should be compelling enough for us even in our darkest moments of doubts.  If Christ founded it, why would we ever want to be anywhere else?

He founded the Church and gave His own authority to her to teach, to govern and to sanctify.  He gave her the ordinary means of our salvation in the Sacraments He instituted.  When we pray in our sacred liturgical worship, Christ Himself is praying with our voices, gesturing with our hands in intimate unity with us through our baptismal character.

If we see someone wounded, we run fast to help.  We open our veins to give blood in times of emergency.

If we see people who are on fire or being attacked, we run towards the gunfire, towards the blaze.

Let’s now gird ourselves for battle.

Some of you will be in the front lines where the clash is.  Some will be in the supporting ranks, where the binding of wounds takes place.  Some will be on supply lines.  Some will provide QRF.  Some will be on oversight.  Some will provide command and control.  We all have to step up and own who we are as Catholics and own our vocations.  We must own our missions and our roles.  If we focus on our individual pain we won’t serve our cause well.

Let us be warriors together, not worriers separated.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in ¡Hagan lío!, "How To..." - Practical Notes, Cri de Coeur, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Our Catholic Identity, Semper Paratus, The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices, Wherein Fr. Z Rants and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

70 Responses to ASK FATHER: Why should I remain Catholic when the Church doesn’t seem to believe her own message?

  1. Lurker 59 says:

    I see comments like this all over the place. Young people of Faith are very demoralized.

    In my experience, people of Faith tend to be isolated, as well as often being a bit introverted. It is very hard to keep morale up in such a situation of isolation. In part, what is needed is networking. One can get a lot of courage when they know someone down the street is on the side of Christ.

    The internet and websites like this one, are great for Catholics to gather together — but it also needs to be done in real life. Catholics need to get together, break bread, pray, and talk. Where possible, hold open invitation Catholic parties in your home. Engage in fellowship and hospitality. Gather together outside of the walls of the parish. Talk, discuss, and most importantly pray. Create groups. Invite Father, Sister, or Brother to come and give a talk. You don’t need to wait for them to have one at the parish!

    Some points of encouragement.

    1. Don’t conflate the Church Militant with the totality of Church.

    2. The Church Militant has always been a mess filled with unfaithful in positions of power. Don’t waste your time pining for a non-existent golden age. Be faithful here and now.

    3. If someone’s lack of faith bothers you watch out for pride and sloth. Pray for them.

    4. Remember, you are not alone.

  2. StMichael71 says:

    Here’s a thought that might be helpful. The Church has not changed her belief about these things, because Her pastors are not co-extensive with “the Church.” Although a traditionally progressivist slogan, it is good in our contemporary context to meditate upon the phrase, “We are the Church.” Recall Newman’s point that most of the bishops failed in their duty to teach the faith during the Arian heresy. It was primarily laypeople that maintained the orthodox faith. It bears fruit in ways we cannot imagine when we ourselves sacrifice and pray, even if it seems the world is against us. Athanasius was the child and friend of orthodox, holy people, and it was because they supported and prayer for him that the Arian heresy was eventually overcome. I do not think we are in the same dire situation today that existed then, but prayer, penance, and good example are the tools the Church has been given to defeat the Enemy in every age.

  3. cornelius74 says:

    Dear Father Z, thank you for this encouraging post. Really. Only last week I had a not-so-pleasant discussion with my fellow parishioners on cardinal Sarah’s call for ad orientem Mass. I merely suggested that perhaps, we could give it a thought, not necessarily start with it on the first Sunday in Advent, as the good cardinal proposed. Well, there were sparks flying. We calmed down, eventually. But it quite surprised me, the determination with which these respectable men dismissed the simple idea right out of hand. Anyway, I just completed the excellent Kwasniewski book, only recently translated into my mother tongue – and THAT was excellent. Like they say in the best film ever, “it’s time to go to the mattresses”. Meanwhile, let’s pray.

  4. remindme says:

    When I started reading the letters I immediately thought about the Boccaccio story cited by the Father (which is in Decameron) and I am glad that the Father mentioned it. Decameron (published in the 14th century) has many other stories about the contemporary state of the Church and the clergy and, unfortunately things didn’t get much better (to say the least) in the following centuries, with the Medici popes and all.
    I, too, feel discouraged and disheartened these days, but I think studying the history of the Church helps, as it puts things in perspective. I also find helpful writings of saints, such as the autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila (a woman of PLUCK, which is what we need). Considering all the external AND internal challenges that the Church has gone through over the centuries, I feel that the amazing thing is not so much how bad things are now, as that the Church is still here at all. In fact, considering the challenges of the Gospel, I submit that the amazing thing is not so much how little faith there is in the world, as how many people actually do believe. But we are here and we believe and hope (we try anyway), and Christ promised to be with us until the end of time.

  5. majuscule says:

    I have been thinking a lot about the devil lately. No mortal (or group of mortals) could engineer the world situation today.

    Yes, we need to network. Even two or three faithful and likeminded Catholics can support each other. It doesn’t have to be a large group. But you need something to draw you together on a regular basis. A prayer group, bible study, even an after Mass coffee group. Or something related to your hobby that can also include discussion and prayer. (I’m not young so I don’t know what the young people of today would gravitate to).

    If you can’t find a local group, you can always go online. Facebook is a massive waste of time…except I find interesting Catholic news there. I have also made several wonderful friends on FB who are strong Catholics. Though we have never met in person we support each other with prayers and laughter and tears at the state of the world and our Church.

  6. un-ionized says:

    I too felt like bailing after the supposedly orthodox parish did such a bad thing to me so as to make me question dogmas such as indefectibility and the ontological change of ordination. But where would I go? I have to find another parish but it will be a Catholic one. Just I hope a little less like a self-absorbed country club that tells people to get out based on their appearance and a little more Christian. I am sorry for those who are in places with only one parish. I pray for everybody. Prayer is always in good taste.

  7. bombcar says:

    John 6:68-69 applies on all sides.

    Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

    Reading the Book of Job may provide solace.

  8. Nathan says:

    Thanks, Father, for the timely and cogent post. I don’t know whether or not it would help to encourage those whose spirits are flagging, but I’d like to offer a perspective from being in the fight for the past 35 or so years.

    While there is much confusion today, the strategic situation seems, IMO, much better today than when I entered the Church in 1980. No doubt part of my assessment stems from maturity (I was 16 when I converted), but as I recall:

    –From the late 1960s until close to 1990, Tradition-minded Catholics were truly on the outside (at least in the US, which is my experience). We had no internet sources of information, and the modernists controlled the entire mainstream Catholic and secular press. The only news related sources of reliable information to most of us were The Wanderer, The Remnant and some hand copied newsletters (“The Maryfaithful” comes to mind). Today we know about the Four Cardinals, we see the books prepared in advance of the Synod, and we have instant access to information where we can find the TLM and orthodox dioceses and parishes. This really helps mitigate against the extreme isolation I remember experiencing as a new Tradition-minded Catholic.

    –We have many priests and a number of bishops who are openly favorable to Tradition, and who offer the TLM and reverent Novus Ordo Masses while teaching the fullness of the Faith. We can also find them easily, even though there is filtering involved. In 1980, the only places I knew of where one could find the TLM, reverent OF Masses, and like-minded Catholics were at some places (passed along by word of mouth) like St Agnes in Minneapolis and in the SSPX.

    –The errors of the time (especially liturgical misinformation) were the only game in town in 1980. We did not have resources (prior to Michael Davies, in English) to specifically counter the “why don’t you love EP2? It’s the Hippolytan Canon!” or “The Early Church just LOVED Communion in the Hand and Mass Facing The People, what’s your problem?” Actual scholarship on this is readily available (and can be googled) now.

    –If a bishop or a priest were to abuse a layman or laywoman over practices such as kneeling for Holy Communion or asking for the TLM or refusing to go along with the latest, there were few practical resources in 1980–one example, a reported story of a woman being kicked by a bishop when she tried to kneel for Holy Communion made the rounds only of the Trad/Wanderer world. Thanks to both technology and a generation of St John Paul/Pope Benedict bishops and priests, such occurrences are much more likely to see the light of day and be dealt with in a manner that assists the poor layman.

    –While I frequent the TLM on Sundays, when I assist at (largely daily Mass) the Novus Ordo now, the new translation into English is a real source of comfort. What made the Novus Ordo in English so difficult for me in 1980 was that I knew how badly translated it was, but had to kneel there and put up with it. It’s amazing just how cooperative one can be to the graces of Holy Mass when you’re not gnashing teeth over “for you and for all” or “and also with you” every time.

    Hope this helps a bit. In Christ,

  9. LarryW2LJ says:

    When I get down and depressed, which seems to happen more, lately …… I get busy with the Corporal Works of Mercy. It helps to know that your actions are helping those in need. I keep going to Adoration as often as I can and go to confession monthly. I try to take of what I can and let the Lord take care of the rest. At some point, you have to realize that what you can’t control, you have to leave up to Him.

    Happy Thanksgiving Fr. Z, and to all your readers – you truly have become family.

  10. lmgilbert says:

    These two cases illustrate the plight of the hyper-informed Catholic. Long ago I discovered the secret of maintaining equanimity regarding matters both secular and ecclesial and that is, when worry sets in, to put aside the my “need” to sate my never-ending curiosity re “breaking news.” I go on holiday from newspapers, news aggregators, blogs, television. After a while sweet reason and a sense of proportion return.

    Until I am a cardinal do I need to follow the fate of the “dubia”? Regarding what happened at Lund I am an ignoramus. If I am displeased with Cardinals Tobin, Farrell and Cupich what effect does my chin-wag have on Providence, on Pope Francis, or for that matter on the opinion of my spouse?
    So far in my ignorance I have been innocent of schismatic mutterings, which is surely a good thing and in itself well worth while “hiding one’s head in the sand” for a bit. We have no divine command to second-guess the hierarchy, “but touch not my anointed and to my prophets do no harm.”

    Perhaps more to the point, in stepping back from the fray and resolving to look at the current situation from a centuries long perspective, one keeps himself from falling into a state of desolation, in which state St. Ignatius recommends (under divine guidance) that we make NO decision. Yet, leaving the Church is practically the most fateful decision possible.

    “A man should go where he won’t be tempted,” says St. Thomas More in a Man for all Seasons. If a man finds himself tempted to leave the Church he should ask himself where he has allowed his mind to go, under what influences he has allowed it to fall, and what voices he has allowed to chatter away in his immortal soul.

  11. Gerhard says:

    We should stay Catholic because our Lord said “I have overcome the world.” And He cried out on the Cross “It is accomplished!” The victory is in the bag. But the battle for our souls continues and so we must fight on. Where else would you expect the enemy to want to be? Inside the wire of course. He has been lurking in the long grass long enough. Do we flinch now he gets up and walks tall? Or do we engage with all we’ve got?

  12. EMF says:

    Ah, yes…..
    I am thinking of starting two Novenas.
    One would be for the Church’s Magisterium for leadership and guidance to aid us in seeking Truth and be living examples for us of Fidelity to the teachings of Jesus Christ.
    The other would be for the leaders of the world, that they may all also seek Truth and govern with care and respect for the people of their nation and for the people of other nations.

    Problem is, I have no experience with Novenas, much less “Novenas making”. I suppose I’ll go day by day. The other difficulty is “when to stop”; perhaps this should be for me a perpetual opportunity to read Scripture and think about it in terms of each request of God – a theme guided Lectio Divina. I sure could use some help !

    I don’t have a blog or website, but I have set up an email address in case anyone has suggestions…

    I’m asking for your help and the intervention of the Holy Spirit,
    Thanks !

  13. anilwang says:

    I definitely sympathize, but ultimately it comes down to what our First Pope said to Jesus when he challenged them to leave, namely, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68).

    Seriously, what other alternatives are there? The Eastern Orthodox or Copts? Dig deep enough and you’ll find lack of unity, even on the sacraments runs deeper than anything you find in the Catholic Church. Anglicans? Spend some time on virtueonline.com or other orthodox Anglican blogs and feel their pain and self delusion that their brand of Anglicanism is “True Anglicanism” and all others are false…even fellow conservatives…but some false brands are worse than others. Protestantism? It’s an inconsistent self contradictory mess. Islam? Deep down it’s Protestantism on steroids with a different holy book and with different secondary Tradition held as authoritative by different groups. Judaism? Is a story without an ending, and without a prophet to say “okay guys the earthly throne of David is gone forever, there will be no more revelation, you’re on your own, and you don’t need a Levitical Priesthood to perform sacrifices according to the Law” I don’t see how someone could be Jewish. Eastern Religions? At core, they aren’t any better than outright Atheism since ultimately nothing you do matters no matter how many lives you have, and the self is just an illusion. So we are just self deluded smoke or just a bag or atoms with no rhyme or reason or ultimate meaning and there is no ultimate difference between the atoms we call a bug, the atoms we call Stalin, or the atoms we call Blessed Mother Teresa or anything those atoms do.

    Stick to Catholicism. It’s messy but life is messy and you have no other choice. Given this lack of choice, feel relief that you can commit whole heatedly to this choice and don’t look back. With this knowledge, study the faith, especially study Church History, especially the many past crises in the Church that threatened to submerge True Catholicism and recognize that we’ve been here before…many times….and each time the Church has recovered stronger.

  14. donato2 says:

    I have long expected that what is happening would happen. We want the Church to be a security blanket, a refuge from the world, but I know that that is not how God intends the Church to be. There would be little need for faith were it like that. It is wrong to put your faith in a Church that depends on the efforts or mere men like JPII and Benedict XVI. There is no human force that can stop modernism or any other evil thing that assails the Church. Only God saves. The present tribulation is an invitation to increase one’s faith.

  15. bombcar says:

    EMF – Novenas are nine days of prayer; the simplest would be to say, for example, a Rosary a day for your particular intention. You may also want to read about saints who were in similar situations; St Peter Damian for example.

    And as to the mention of the Corporal Works of Mercy, remember that Christ said “when I was in prison you visited me, etc” – and where can we find Christ more perfectly in prison than in the Real Presence at a “modern” Mass? We can at least comfort Christ.

  16. Tricia says:

    Thanks for this post, Father.

    While these are hard times for many people, it’s important to remember to trust in His Providence and seek His will for our lives.

    In the end, this is His Church, and He doesn’t desire us to be anywhere else.

  17. remindme says:

    “Wer glaubt ist nie allein.”
    (One who believes is never alone.)

  18. Christophe says:

    Pope Francis is just Vatican II on steroids. When the Church abandoned, at least in practice, the doctrine of no salvation outside the Church, when she assured everyone they didn’t have to be Catholic in order to be saved, people logically took her at her word as decided not to be Catholic. It’s pretty simple. Pope Francis is now ramping it up by insulting anyone who thinks being Catholic is necessary or helpful for salvation. You rigid, Pelagian, doctors of the law.

  19. yatzer says:

    Thank you, and the commenters following. I really needed it, having once left the Church for a while because of that sort of thing. I am fortunate in my access to a good, stable parish now and hope it is able to stay that way with the musical chairs of bishops who sometimes enjoy crushing traditional parishes.

  20. Imrahil says:

    Because the Church does still believe her own message.

    One of which is that no matter what officials ay and no matter what attending or inscribed majorities say, the Church, as such, by definition says what the Church says.

    – But we’re men of flesh and bones, so sometimes one must feel it to believe it or at least to be convinced your heart actually believes it, right?

    Well, if you don’t find a likeminded group of a size sufficient to you: have a guess what letters, telephones, inernets, social platforms, messenger services, video calls and the like were (among other things) invented for.

    Of course, we all have a soft cultural-pessimistic spot that tells us (quite rightly) that “virtual life” isn’t as good as actually sitting together with coffee and cake. But sometimes you have to do with a 2CV if you can’t get a BMW.

  21. un-ionized says:

    Larryw2lj, you are right, nothing beats slinging hash at a soup kitchen for making you understand what Jesus meant by the things he said that will get us to heaven. For I was hungry… The least of these… Worship and adoration are great but the rubber has to meet the road some time.

  22. AnnTherese says:

    We all can feel discouraged at times. No church is perfect. I keep reading the Gospels to remember who it is that I follow with all my heart, all my mind, and all my soul.

    Breathe in: “Be still…”
    Breathe out: “…and know that I am God.”
    (Ps 46:10)

  23. EMF says:

    Hello Bombcar –

    Thanks much for your reply !

    To show how ignorant of the guidelines for novenas I am, what I was trying to describe is a perpetual novena, which can be self renewing.
    I am rather fond of looking things up and reading, so a weekly novena will give me time to do that before the chosen day.

    Again, thanks !

  24. wanda says:

    Thank you, thank you, Fr. Z. How I needed your encouragement. God bless you and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your readers.

  25. Chris Rawlings says:

    Here is a handy Catholic gut-check. Is the holy Sacrifice of the Mass the “source and summit” of your Christian life, or is it the latest news, the latest controversy, the latest scandal from Rome or anywhere else in the Church?

  26. Henry Edwards says:

    Thank you, Nathan, for a much needed trip down memory lane. Which can reassure younger Catholics who naturally assume that conditions in the Church have never been worse that what they themselves see today. When, in reality, all around us now are reasons for hope that we lacked utterly in the times you describe. And in the 1960s and 70s when the single thing most precious to many of us was abruptly snatched away, here one Sunday, and gone the next. Never to return, we were told by some of our priests and nuns with gleeful eyes and gloating voices. A time when one of the most influential members of the Consilium that composed the Novus Ordo wrote:

    Let those who like myself have known and sung a Latin-Gregorian High Mass remember it if they can. Let them compare it with the Mass that we now have. Not only the words, the melodies, and some of the gestures are different. To tell the truth it is a different liturgy of the Mass. This needs to be said without ambiguity: the Roman Rite as we knew it no longer exists. It has been destroyed.

    But he who celebrates best who celebrates last, at least in this case. Today, thanks to Benedict XVI, we celebrate the return of the Most Holy Mass of our Fathers in the Faith. To stay forever. For its future lies firmly in the hands of a new generation of faithful young priests, and not in the hands a tired and literally hopeless generation whose glory days in the years following Vatican II are long past, and thankfully will in due course will be mercifully forgotten.

  27. YoungLatinMassGuy says:

    At one point Athanasius of Alexandria stood against the tide of Arianism in his own day.

    Remember: After the Council of Nicea, there were MORE Arians in the Church than before.

    If, come Judgement Day, I, totally alone and half-dead, have to cross that finish line, on my face, dragging my entrails behind me by my bloody and broken fingertips to the feet of Jesus Christ, and say “Here I am Lord…”

    Then so be it.

  28. Eric says:

    Gee, I was feeling pretty good til I read YoungLatin MassGuy’s comment.

    I, personally, am praying for the “no dragging of entrails” method of getting to heaven.

    However, as he said, so be it.

  29. Nathan says:

    Henry Edwards, thank you, sir!

    I remember well the Bugnini quote and the modernist triumphalism that accompanied it. And I’m glad that (Deo gratias) we have more reason to hope that we seemed to then.

    In Christ,

  30. I’m sorry to see people express such discouragement. One question comes to mind, which those who are discouraged might want to reflect on:

    What were you expecting?

    When we find ourselves disappointed or discouraged, this is a good question to ask ourselves.

    We’ve heard the Lord Jesus say it pretty often, haven’t we: if we follow him, we will have trouble, persecution, even be “hated by all because of me.” Consider that the trials we will face are very unlikely to be a firing squad, and more like what the correspondents are describing.

  31. un-ionized says:

    Younglatinmassguy, Entrails, ooh rah! Or is that EEUW? A priest who is noted for his honesty told me that the point of the Church is to be beaten up by the Church, there is no more complete method of turning you inside out until you have to rely completely on Christ, the bloody guy on the Cross who sees that some of my entrails have been left behind.

  32. majuscule says:

    Eric says “Gee, I was feeling pretty good til I read YoungLatin MassGuy’s comment.

    On the other hand, this old Latin Mass fogey found his comment positive and heartening! Granted, it’s not a pleasant image to to ponder. Instead of the image let us think about the faithful persistence involved in pursuing Our Lord.

  33. benedetta says:

    Very helpful words, Father. At the homily I heard last Sunday our priest spoke similarly, drawing from that very epistle as well, and one thought that I would add is that the enemy doesn’t necessarily operate in the open, does not want to be identified. It should inform our tactics, our approach, our spiritual preparation, to work past the discouragements, the worries, the anger with what is good and of above in mind. I think the reminder to get to work where needed also helps immensely with these concerns that many of us have.

  34. Benedict Joseph says:

    Undeniably there is more than little depth wisdom in Father’s analysis. So much of it really struck me at the heart. Since reading it however, I’ve been disturbed by a certain dis-ease that I can’t shed. The consolation that accompanies a perspective rooted in the Gospel, which Father’s commentary clearly is, is not operative for me today after almost four years of chaos.
    With the dawn of the conciliar era there was an avalanche of rhetoric about the Church as a community, often accompanied admonitions to “brotherhood” and social outreach; the reorientation of the Mass from “ad orientem” to “versus populum”; the insertion of the sign of peace, frequent references to Matthew 5:24, the debasement of religious imagery, the abandonment of classical observance of religious life. More than once I heard acts of devotion termed “pious nonsense.” The elements constituting the remodeling of Roman Catholicism went on ad infinitum. But we did it. The Pope said to do it, the Bishop said to do it, Father said to do it, Sister said to do it. So we did it. We trusted them.
    By 1978 everything was in a state of collapse. Roman Catholic life in the United States was visibly unrecognizable, let alone interiorly, from what it had been in 1965. Saying that it was in collapse was strongly discouraged and actively denied. But it was. But we didn’t say so. We trusted them.
    Pope Saint John Paul brought a long interval of something that seemed like stability and restoration. The events of 2013 reveal that to have been wishful thinking. Apparently there was quite a large crew of clerics murmuring dissatisfaction while scratching their way up the ladder to the lido deck. Today they walk among us in positions of uber pastoral leadership. The stability was a mirage.
    As a child I had an unarticulated fear of being kidnapped. As a man of mature years I now feel as if I have indeed been kidnapped, abused, and betrayed by men who I have struggled to trust as I have been taught. The fact of the matter is that all of us have been kidnapped, abused and betrayed by men who have abandoned the faith, and because of the offices they hold, we are not allowed to hold them accountable.
    At best we can endure this in a parallel consciousness, a kind of dissociative reaction. Could it be termed an ecclesiastical Stockholm syndrome (or in the current era a “Lund” syndrome)?
    I’m not going anywhere. There is nowhere to go. But I’m not going to pretend this crew is composed of a bunch of well-intentioned good guys. I would not trust a dog with them for a weekend. And they don’t give a hoot.

  35. JARay says:

    Whatever others do or whatever others don’t do, what I do is what matters. I am the one who will stand before Jesus for judgement. My soul, my salvation are what matter.
    I take responsibilty for my actions! Yes! Me!
    I intend doing all I can to get ME into heaven.

  36. LDP says:

    I do not wish to simply regurgitate what others more knowledgeable than I have already said, but as someone who is approaching this issue from the other side – that is to say, the side of a non-Catholic with the intention of being baptised into the Church – I will try and give some of my thoughts.

    Firstly, and perhaps obviously, I always remind myself of Matthew 16:18, but specifically the verb ‘prevail’ (translated as such in both the RSV-CE and the DR, apparently from the Latin ‘praevalere’, meaning to ‘have greater power’). To ‘prevail against’ something clearly implies a conflict; it implies in this case a protracted campaign against ‘the gates of hell’. The Gospel could say that the gates of hell will not touch the Church, will not trouble or interfere with her, but it doesn’t, so why should we be so intent on abandoning the campaign against the forces of evil, to desert the holy legions of saints? Earthly kingdoms once shot wartime deserters for cowardice. Is there any reason why God should not metaphorically execute us for deserting our heavenly motherland in her hour of need?

    Secondly, the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side. I suspect the only other denomination that traditionally-minded Catholics may be interested in is Eastern Orthodoxy. But beware. According to pravoslavie.ru/english (a Russian, Orthodox news website), the Patriarchate of Alexandria is set to restore the deaconess ministry. Also, the Ecumenical Patriarch seems to be in near civil war with many of the local churches, trying to intimidate them into acquiescing to the demands of the liberalising, so-called pan-Orthodox council held in Crete earlier this year, styled the ‘Orthodox Vatican II’ by some.

    Lastly – and sorry for the long post – remember that there are still people, like myself, gravitating inexorably towards the Church, who are traditionally-minded and want to make a difference. Without solid role-models firmly established within the Church, especially amongst the laity, to whom will people like me aspire? From whom will we learn the faith? Reinforcements are coming, but hang on in there until they arrive!

  37. swisswiss says:

    Let’s keep in mind that the superlative giftedness of JPII and Benedict XVI makes even average seem dull and uneven like the pits.

  38. Kathleen10 says:

    It’s rough, and who knows where it will go. If the Lord ends it all tomorrow in a divine intervention I’ll lament my lack of faith, since sometimes it seems almost hopeless, but of course it’s not.
    Thank you Fr. Z. and all here. We need community.
    This is our time to be alive and Catholic in a time when it’s not easy and we have to go it alone almost. For all of us this won’t last forever, since on our last earthly day we will no longer care about the vale of tears, we’ll hopefully have paradise or the promise of it, please God.
    I spent time with a 96 year old man today, a darling Italian gentleman who reminded me, by his happiness over our conversation, that I need to think about the church and myself less, and giving to others more. This will do me a world of good, allow me to help others, and let me love Jesus in a tangible way.

  39. MWindsor says:

    Thank you, Fr. Z, for this. I, and many others it seems, needed something like this.

    Thinking in these terms as physical actions is often easier, I think, than thinking of them in spiritual terms. I’m curious how you would define some of these things from a spiritual warfare point of view –

    Some of you will be in the front lines where the clash is.
    Some will be in the supporting ranks, where the binding of wounds takes place.
    Some will be on supply lines.
    Some will provide QRF.
    Some will be on oversight / overwatch.
    Some will provide command and control.

    Or are you intending them purely from a physical point of view?

  40. Genevieve says:

    I felt so discouraged after Francis’ “like rabbits” comments that I made up my mind the not to pay any attention to anything he said anymore. I see the headlines and even read a few articles about his bizarre statements, but my expectations for him are so low that I don’t get much upset. In my local church, I do sometimes wish for a little more, but as many have already said, “to whom would we go?” Like Mother Like Daughter, Leila Lawler’s blog, has a list of pockets of like minded families in order that they might get together for support. She’s calling them St. Greg’s Pockets. Go on and look them up.

  41. Absit invidia says:

    Fr this is very very good advice. Thank you for the clarity and spiritual guidance. Please pray for us – especially those of us with little to no access to the EF mass that offers this same solid clarity and spiritual awareness lacking today.

  42. St. Epaphras says:

    Benedict Joseph at 4:37 p.m. said: “I’m not going anywhere. There is nowhere to go. But I’m not going to pretend this crew is composed of a bunch of well-intentioned good guys. I would not trust a dog with them for a weekend. And they don’t give a hoot.”

    That about says it all. On a happier note, while things will almost certainly get much worse before they get better, Jesus Christ is (still) the same yesterday, today and forever. A priest whose sermons I listen to says “He’s God! He fits the job description.” And “He saw this day.” Just those two things make me smile, at least inwardly, and remember that God is in control.

  43. Matilda P says:

    The situation seems bleak, but it is God’s will that you and I should be alive right now, and that these should be the circumstances that will lend themselves to our sanctification, if we will let them. I am reminded of this bit from the Lord of the Rings:

    ‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo.
    ‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given, us. And already, Frodo, our time is beginning to look black. The Enemy is fast becoming very strong. His plans are far from ripe, I think, but they are ripening. We shall be hard put to it.”

  44. Nan says:

    LDP, welcome home!

    Benedict Joseph, ignore the guys, take the dog for the weekend and focus on those things you can control, like going to Mass and having Faith.

    I’m told that I need to serve others and need to figure out what that looks like; I spent 3 1/2 years focused on the Corporal Works of Mercy, after mom’s stroke, and several weeks this summer after my sister’s cancer diagnosis. It doesn’t sound like much but I was bringing clear liquids and trying to think of different things for her to try; at one point I brought rose lemonade, sparkling cucumber, and some other random thing which now escapes me. They amused her but she didn’t try them, which was okay. Instead she drank water, 7-up, gatorade, cream soda and ginger ale.

    She wanted a 3-4 subject, college ruled notebook (to make lists of her possessions and how to dispose of them), a particular type of pen and when I called to ask what color notebook she wanted (important!), she asked if I was at Wal-Mart, and when I asked what she needed, she said a hairbrush. It was a cry from the heart; the tiny ones at the hospital were no help. She was so sick for a couple of weeks that brushing her hair wasn’t a consideration and it was matted to the point that she talked about cutting her waist-length hair. I bought her a big brush, detangling comb and ponytail holders. It took three days for her to get all the snarls out of her hair.

    She badly wanted to go on a road trip before she died but the only road trip she went on was our illicit venture to Walgreens on the way to our aunt’s house where she stayed for hospice care. That was it. She was agitated because before putting her things in storage she hadn’t thought about jewelry and wanted her amber jewelry to wear in her casket. I soothed her agitation by telling her I’d buy jewelry for her to wear in her casket, which I did.

    I had done similar things for mom, the most spectacular of which was taking her to her 60th class reunion, 200 mi away, renting a wheelchair van and hospital equipment, hiring an aide for the weekend and going to a hotel that was absolutely wonderful, taking a bed out of the room the day before so it was ready for the hospital bed and equipment the next day. We cooked for her and brought things; more than once when I randomly brought Chinese takeout, she said she had hoped I’d bring Chinese, never mind that she could call and ask me to do so!

    We went to see A Christmas Story on the big screen a few days before Christmas two years ago, had a little family party in a conference room on Christmas Eve, had Chinese takeout Christmas day (just like A Christmas Story! she said), and went to the 75th anniversary showing of The Wizard of Oz for her niece’s 6th birthday, whole family as entourage.

    After leaving the Church in 1972, she died at about the time Pope Francis said “if a man says ‘Lord’ a few seconds before he dies, how do we know he isn’t reconciled.” She made a teeny, tiny movement toward God, agreeing to see the priest but dying before his visit, but also asking Him for help dying, after telling me she was ready to die and wanted to die, but didn’t know how…I suggested she ask God for help and she did. It doesn’t sound like much, but for her it was huge. My sister, on the other hand, had no interest in God, speaking with a priest or reconciling with Him.

    These are the important things, not which prelate sports man lace and which sneers at it, which has crazy puppet Mass featuring Sideshow Bob and which is having Pontifical High Mass at the Throne on Dec. 10 at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadelupe in LaCrosse, WI (ladies, get your mantillas!).

  45. amrc says:

    I was compelled to leave my parish where I was very active for 2 decades because of — well, unorthodox teachings & my disagreements. This searing experience has turned out to be a great blessing: I turned much more deeply to Our Lord in prayer. We are so close now, almost palpably at times as “One.” God wants your whole heart & soul — passionately. Turn to Him more frequently as your heart rends, so that you two may be as One. Joan of Arc was burned at the stake by Catholic churchmen … and she died calling on the God she loved so ardently. Also, imagine how our brave & loyal Cardinals, bishops, & priests feel, who are trying to tow the True line & our Church amidst so much dissension & persecution. We must be so thankful for the Sacraments!!! Eucharist means “thanksgiving,” and I am so thankful for God’s gift of Himself to me EVERY SINGLE MASS!!!

  46. Ben Kenobi says:

    Job? What about Elijah?

    1 Kings 19:1

    But when Achab told Jezabel of what Elias had done, how he had put all her prophets to the sword,

    she sent Elias a message, The gods punish me as I deserve, and more, if by this time tomorrow I have not sent thee the way yonder prophets went. Whereupon he took fright, and set out upon a journey of his own devising; made his way to Bersabee in Juda, and left his servant to wait there, while he himself went on, a whole day’s journey, into the desert.

    Betaking himself there, and sitting down under a juniper tree, he prayed to have done with life. I can bear no more, Lord, he said; put an end to my life; I have no better right to live than my fathers With that, he lay down and fell asleep under the juniper tree; but all at once an angel of the Lord roused him, bidding him awake and eat. Then he found, close to where his head lay, a girdle-cake and a pitcher of water; so he ate and drank and lay down to sleep again. But once more the angel of the Lord roused him; Awake and eat, said he, thou hast a journey before thee that will tax thy strength. So he rose up, and ate and drank; strengthened by that food he went on for forty days and forty nights, till he reached God’s own mountain, Horeb.

    There he made his lodging in a cave; and all at once the Lord’s word came to him, Elias, what dost thou here? Why, he answered, I am all jealousy for the honour of the Lord God of hosts; see how the sons of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thy altars, and put thy prophets to the sword! Of these, I only am left, and now my life, too, is forfeit.

    Then word came to him to go out and stand there in the Lord’s presence; the Lord God himself would pass by. A wind there was, rude and boisterous, that shook the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire, the whisper of a gentle breeze. Elias, when he heard it, wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out to stand at the cave door. There a voice came to him, Elias, what dost thou here?

    I am all jealousy, said he, for the honour of the Lord God of hosts; see how the sons of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thy altars, and put thy prophets to the sword! Of these, I only am left, and now my life, too, is forfeit.

    Then the Lord said to him, Retrace thy journey through the desert all the way to Damascus, and there anoint Hazael to be king of Syria. Over Israel, too, thou shalt anoint a king, Jehu the son of Namsi. And for thyself, thou shalt anoint a new prophet, Eliseus, the son of Saphat, from Abel-Meula, to take thy place. Those who escape the sword of Hazael shall be slain by Jehu, and those who escape the sword of Jehu shall be slain by Eliseus. Yet I mean to leave myself seven thousand men out of all Israel; knees that have never bowed to Baal, lips that have never kissed hand to do him worship.

    Elijah himself was tempted, as we all have been tempted to flee into the desert to escape the coming persecution. Even as Elijah knew that God’s prophets had been slain – God is sovereign. We must not forget that. God knows and understands the plight of his faithful. He understands the long battle that has been fought ever since Creation.

    Even in Elijah’s example, God kept 7 thousand of the faithful from Baal worship. He is sovereign. We cannot perceive His will in the world and what His plans will be. We don’t know what resources he has husbanded nor can we see all His workings in the world. God understands. God hears and we must trust him. Elijah came from Horab and all was done as God had told him. If eve a prophet of God could doubt we can find comfort in God’s plans.

  47. Christ_opher says:

    Dear Father Z, Thank you for this excellent article.

    Thank you Father Martin Fox for your excellent comment.

  48. Cornelius says:

    I’m sorry to hear that cornelius74. If I had been there I would have enthusiastically supported your suggestion.

  49. un-ionized says:

    Nan, you have just written a how-to on mercy. Yours is the best comment I have seen in years. The things you did for your mother and sister show the utmost Christian charity and illustrate what God commands us to do. We are not to focus on our feelings about the Church and whether the vestments are pretty enough to suit us or brag about our travels and our meals but go and find the Lazaruses of the world and do what we can. I wish we could have tea.

  50. Kerry says:

    If one is already doing so, may I recommend learning some prayers in Latin? A certain self consciousness seems to go away, perhaps like the opposite of hearing opera in English. The Pater Noster, Ave Maria, (including the beautifully sounding “Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in proelo…”, and the Credo. At Mass, we somewhat quietly also sing or say the Agnus Dei, the Gloria, Sanctus, the Domine non sum dignus as well. It is a great tonic. (Occasionally I greet the ‘greeters’ with “Benedictum sit nomen Domine nostre Jesu Christi”. Their puzzlement smiles at Jesu Christi. Must be done with love though.

  51. byzantinesteve says:

    A conservative evangelical friend asked me my thoughts about Pope Francis about 6 months ago. I shared with him the good and the bad and then I concluded, saying “if your faith is contingent upon who the pope is, you’re doing it wrong.”

    Am I constantly frustrated by the confusion and lack of clarity coming from the Vatican? Absolutely. But Francis can’t take anything from me. He can’t change our teachings, he can’t take away the sacraments and he can’t interrupt my relationship with Christ unless I allow it. Don’t fall into the trap, folks!

  52. robtbrown says:

    un-ionized says:

    Larryw2lj, you are right, nothing beats slinging hash at a soup kitchen for making you understand what Jesus meant by the things he said that will get us to heaven. For I was hungry… The least of these… Worship and adoration are great but the rubber has to meet the road some time.

    Grace is the cause of every act of Charity. For us grace comes from the Sacraments and prayer. In the daily life of Mother Teresa’s sisters is, in addition to Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours, one hour of adoration. In those hours of prayer and adoration the sisters drink from the waters of Grace, by which they are refreshed for their apostolate. Caritas Christi urget nos.

    I recommend Dom Chautard’s The Soul of the Apostolatewhich can be found as a free ebook

  53. robtbrown says:

    Mother Teresa on daily schedule of Missionaries of Charity
    The passages below are quotations of Mother Teresa from the book “Loving Jesus,” edited by Jose Luis Gonzalez-Balado

    1. OUR DAILY SCHEDULE (34-36)
    To be able to give life like that, our lives are centred on the Eucharist and prayer. We begin our day with Mass, Holy Communion, and meditation.
    Our community life is very closely-woven together. We do everything together: we pray together, we eat together, we work together.
    Since we have only two saris, we wash one every day.
    After Mass and breakfast, some Sisters go to the Home for Dying Destitutes, some to the leper colonies, some to the little schools we have in the slums, some take care of the preparation and distribution of food, some go to visit needy families, some go to teach catechism, and so on.
    They go all over the city (in Calcutta alone we have fifty-nine centres, the Home for Dying Destitutes is only one of them). The Sisters travel everywhere with a rosary in their hands. That is the way we pray in the streets. We do not go to the people without praying. The rosary has been our strength and our protection.
    We always go in twos, and we come back around 12:30 p.m. At that time we have our lunch. After lunch, very often we have to do housework.
    Then, for half an hour, every Sister has to rest, because all the time they are on their feet. After that, we have an examination of conscience, pray the Liturgy of the Hours, and the Via Crucis, “The Way of the Cross”.
    At 2 p.m., we have spiritual reading for half an hour, and then a cup of tea.

    At 3 o’clock, the professed Sisters again go out. (Novices and postulants remain in the house. They have classes in theology, Scripture and other subjects, such as the rules of monastic orders.)
    Between 6:15 and 6:30 p.m., everybody comes back home.
    From 6:30 to 7:30 we have adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. To be able to have this hour of adoration, we have not had to cut back on our work. We can work as many as ten or even twelve hours a day in service to the poor, following this schedule.
    At 7:30 p.m., we have dinner.
    After dinner, for about twenty minutes, we have to prepare the work for the next morning.
    From 8:30 until 9, we have recreation. Everybody talks at the top of her lungs, after having worked all day long.
    At 9 p.m., we go to the chapel for night prayers and to prepare the meditations for the next morning.
    Once a week, every week, we have a day of recollection. That day, the first-year novices go out, because they are they ones who don’t go out every day. Then all the professed Sisters stay in for the day of recollection. That day we also go to confession and spend more time in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
    This is a time when we can regain our strength and fill up our emptiness again with Jesus. That’s why it is a very beautiful day.

  54. Kathleen10 says:

    Nan, we lived parallel experiences, my mother in 2011 following a year of decline and a sister in 2014, following two years of suffering. I thank God, thank GOD, for the gift of faith, since such experiences in life seem impossible without God’s constant sustenance. How people do it without faith I do not know at all. What a sense of peace it gives to love deeply and know one has given as much as one can to love well to the very end. It is solace, is it not.
    Benedict Joseph, you nicely summed it up. To all, it is a comfort, a comfort, to read your words.
    Fr. Z., thank you again for your wise words and for giving us a forum for airing the pent up feelings and observations we are all having. It is not healthy to have no outlet for the sadness and pain, even frustration and anger, about what we see happening. This is badly needed, thank you. Who wouldn’t feel these things if their Mother was assaulted, their very foundation.
    God bless all here and, Happy Thanksgiving.

  55. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    How bad can it get – how bad had it gotten in the past without that being ‘the end of the story’?

    People might take heart from (re)reading Chesterton’s The Ballad of the White Horse, where Our Lady says to King Alfred in a vision:

    “I tell you naught for your comfort,
    Yea, naught for your desire,
    Save that the sky grows darker yet
    And the sea rises higher.

    “Night shall be thrice night over you,
    And heaven an iron cope.
    Do you have joy without a cause,
    Yea, faith without a hope?”

    That was written (by the still officially Anglican!) GKC in the same time from which R.H. Benson had extrapolated the possible – but to his thought by no means necessary – future of Lord of the World.

    Another work of that period which rewards reading in this context (one much referred to by various authors in their articles for the old Catholic Encyclopedia) is Horace K. Mann, The Lives of the Popes in the Early Middle Ages, perhaps especially volume IV, where he carefully sifts the evidence for why “various writers have described the government of Rome at this period [891-1048] as that of a Pornocracy”. (It’s in the Internet Archive, as is Monsignor Benson’s novel, while Chesterton’s poem is online in various places: LibriVox.org has audiobooks of novel and poem.)

  56. un-ionized says:

    I am very familiar with the Soul of the Apostolate. Short shrift is given here to the corporal works of mercy, focus being on the spiritual work of correction, which is done of course as pompously and insensitively as possible.

  57. KAS says:

    I feel bad for those who cannot comprehend that the Holy Catholic Church is made up of sinners in this world who can be total idiots and not change that the Holy Catholic Church has the fullness of the Faith and never ceases to be Holy. This concept seems to be beyond an awful lot of people.

    Yes, there are marxists in there conflating Catholic social teaching with marxism and confusing the people. That does not mean that Catholic social teaching is marxism. Another concept difficult for a sad bunch of persons.

    Yes, there are heretics, both formal and not, claiming to speak for the Catholic church, but their heresies and need for prayers for their souls salvation, do not detract from the solidity of Catholic teaching. Yet people seem to prefer to listen to heretics and blame the Church, so sad.

    Humans have concupiscence and do evil. They need salvation. They want it without having to actually stop sinning. The Catholic Church makes them mad because God’s truth is consistent on sin and the need for repentance and change of behavior. I am baffled by the people who embrace sin and demand that Catholics (non-heretics, actually orthodox Catholics) change the teachings of the Church because if the Church is so irrelevant then why do they even CARE what the teachings are?

    Their hatred and anger is hopeful, for if they are so guilt-ridden that they hate and must force Catholics to change Church teaching, then a part of their souls are hungering for salvation.

    It is tempting to look at the mess and say–screw it, lets start over somewhere else–but that is not what Jesus taught, nor did the Apostles teach that, nor did the Doctors of the Church teach that, nor did the Fathers of the Church teach that, nor do the documents of the Church teach that, nor does the Bible itself teach that and so the Church today does not teach it. Go to the source and remember that the individuals making you suffer have the potential to help sanctify you via the following of Church teaching in spite of them. Offer it up!

  58. paulineo says:

    I had the pleasure of meeting Fr. Z. in Toronto, Canada, a few weeks ago. It is always wonderful to put a face to the great WORDS we read each week. I have also just returned from a retreat in the U.S. and I am now completely renewed, refreshed and ready for battle.

    We are in battle-mode, but don’t be discouraged. That is what the Adversary wants – discouragement! You must TRUST. Don’t just say the words; mean them. Do we not say in the Divine Mercy devotion, “Jesus, I trust in You”.

    Believe and trust, and then you will feel strong. Attend daily Mass if you are able and start your day with the rosary; don’t forget Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament for one hour, at least once a week. Be strong. We have all the tools at our disposal, so avail of them.

  59. Mike says:

    Faithful young people, be assured that your place in the Church has never been more secure. Your boldness and commitment are essential reinforcements for those of us who through the past several decades have been worn down by guileful Enemy action that is presently escalating into an overt internal attack on the Faith.

    Today’s Epistle (I Timothy iv.1-8) for the Feast of St. John of the Cross—who, let it be remembered, underwent nine months of privation and torture at the hands of his brother Carmelites, which surely contributed to his early death at age 49—aptly foreshadows today’s situation:

    For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables.

    The advice of the Apostle Paul is as useful now as it was when first he gave it:

    But be thou vigilant, labour in all things, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill thy ministry. Be sober.

    As Father and commenters above aptly note, it’s not all beer and skittles. But the Holy Ghost is always with us, as He was with St. John of the Cross, provided (a) we are open to His inspiration and (b) we stick to our job.

  60. Supertradmum says:

    St, Benedict taught his followers something simpler which speaks to me more and more…it is this … that to be humble involves not being contentious, and only responding to responsibilities which are the duty of one’s level.

    With regard to the first, I may speak the truth, but only if I love the person or persons to whom I am speaking without any anger, or rancor, or pride. Therefore, I speak out of love and if the person or persons are not open, I say nothing.

    With regard to the second, I can only change a few things, and maybe none at all, but I must allow God to make me holy. Becoming a saint and loving those around me are my main responsibilities….I can pray for the Pope, for the Cardinals, for Bishops, priests, even specific ones daily, but as a lay person, even one who has made vows in good canonical order, my level of influence is very limited. Therefore, rather than rant and rave, or try to understand things which are beyond my competence, I must pray and trust that God will sort all this confusion and messyness out, realizing that it is our fault that priests and even those clerics at the highest levels ae confused….We have allowed modernism just as much as the leaders have and the leaders we have now come out of modernist lay families, modernist schools, and modernist seminaries still supported by the laity.

    I am not holier than those who are confused. I may have more grace, for which I am grateful and sincerely humbled by… no merit of mine has allowed me to see truths of the Church.

    Pray for the Pope. Pray for the Cardinals. Do mortification, penances, fast, be severe and storm heaven, and never, never should the laity think they are holier than any one else.

  61. un-ionized says:

    Supertradmum, wow. You could be an oblate. Or a super oblate. (Don’t know if that would involve a cape).

  62. Nan says:

    un-ionized, I’d love to have tea with you! Thank you for the kind thoughts; I did what needed to be done and can’t imagine doing anything else. The greatest hardship was that it wasn’t feasible to keep her at home and she had taken care of many people.

    kathleen10, I’m told that I have extraordinary faith, but it wouldn’t be faith if it was easily lost.

    un-ionized and Supertradmum, definitely a cape, with gloves and a mantilla.

  63. Semper Gumby says:

    Young Latin Mass Guy: You do have a way with vivid imagery. I sincerely hope you collaborate with Fr. Z on his SVVAS novel. The next comment, Eric’s, is also classic.

    Great post and comments.

  64. KateD says:

    Thank you for the soul salve, Father.

    God is certainly lining us out and positioning His troops.

    This time in the church is bewildering, but like our faithful leaders, we need to set our discouragement aside and stay the course.

    We know how this battle ultimately ends. It makes being valiant easy when you are ensured victory.

  65. Catharine in Aurora says:

    Father,
    I am very much a private Catholic prophecy buff (please write off the St. Malachy Pope’s prophecy thing which was exposed around 1885–I have a photographic reprint of the book!) as being a near-straight plagiarism of a history written around 1590, copying the identical pieces of misinformation including naming the same 8 anti-popes as true popes, etc.). These days have been predicted for many, many centuries now by saints too numerous to count.
    There have been any number of Popes who espoused out-and-out heresy in past centuries. I don’t know why people are getting so bent out of shape by a current Pope who forbids proselytism and evangelization. Our Lord Jesus Christ commanded us to go out and preach the Gospel to all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost… If some Pope now forbids that, this appears to me to be a classic instance of preaching a Gospel contrary to the true Gospel, and we should react accordingly.
    The real problem appears to be, how to discern how to act, and react, to the horrifying perversion-alteration-dilution-rewriting of the Gospel, and of the entire deposit of faith, which we are seeing in this year of our Lord 2016.
    If a Pope spouts heresy, it is up to the College of Cardinals, and/or Bishops, to call him out on it, and if he remains intransigent, they are to call a churchwide council and depose him. It is not within the jurisdiction or competence of any layperson to make such a pronouncement. And unless and until he is actually deposed, he is still sitting on the throne of St. Peter, and deserves a certain level of respect simply for that.
    That said, what the laity should be doing is radically increasing their own prayer and spiritual life. I found that adding one more 5-decade rosary per day (I now say 2, not 1), trying to go to Mass and Communion, and confession, more frequently, also are major helps to keeping one’s head clear. Frequent confession is something I cannot recommend enough–every 2 weeks keeps the cobwebs and the chaos from taking over, and helps me to stay on the straight and narrow.
    We need to be praying for this Pope, and all cardinals, bishops, priests, deacons, religious, more and more than ever. If we laypeople are being blown about like a dandelion’s seed in a hurricane, one can only imagine what the clergy & religious have gone through these past 50 years!
    Eucharistic adoration is also tremendously helpful, and seems to be more fruitful than any other prayer or devotion, other than the Mass itself. I find myself being called to make EVERY Holy Communion a communion of reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and to including in my morning offering, Pope Francis, Pope Benedict, all cardinals, bishops, etc., etc. Also, for the entire Catholic Church in all of her lawful & legitimate needs & necessities at this present time.
    Also, for those who are being tempted to leave the Church–somewhere in the Bible it says that God permits temptations to befall us, so that it might be seen whether we ever had the intention of obeying God or not. God doesn’t need to find this out as He already knows. We are the ones who need to find this out.
    How we respond to this current crisis may determine our salvation, or final damnation.
    Also, by our conduct, more than our words, we influence others. If we consider ourselves to be faithful & devout Christians, this implies that we conduct ourselves as the adults in the room. What does it say about us if we abandon the barque of St. Peter as soon as the storms and the wind and the waves arose?

  66. PostCatholic says:

    Does anyone here really think that the Devil is not roaming the earth like a roaring lion seeking whom he might devour?

    Me. I really don’t think that.

  67. robtbrown says:

    PostCatholic says:

    Does anyone here really think that the Devil is not roaming the earth like a roaring lion seeking whom he might devour?

    Me. I really don’t think that.

    Most of our sins are rooted in the flesh and the world.

    On the other hand, nb:

    The God Who is the cause of all existence must be Spiritual and Infinite.

    Man is a composite creature–corporeal/spiritual and finite.

    It makes sense that there be creatures between Man and God–and that their essence be finite (like man) but only spiritual.

    Their spiritual nature means that their power far exceeds that of human nature.

    There are evil men (secundum operationem, not secundum essentiam), and so it makes sense that there be evil spiritual substances.

    From there, you can do the math.

  68. Y2Y says:

    “Does anyone here really think that the Devil is not roaming the earth like a roaring lion seeking whom he might devour?

    Me. I really don’t think that.”

    Perhaps because you have already been devoured and digested.

  69. Semper Gumby says:

    PostCatholic: The book about Fr. Gary Thomas, “The Rite”, is helpful here. Then there is the case of Latoya Ammons and her children as reported in the Indianapolis Star in 2014 by Marisa Kwiatkowski. From her article:

    “Many of the events are detailed in nearly 800 pages of official records obtained by The Indianapolis Star and recounted in more than a dozen interviews with police, DCS personnel, psychologists, family members and a Catholic priest.”

    Documents such as the priest’s report to his bishop and the DCS Intake Report are available. Note the events in the basement and living room of the house and at the hospital, witnessed by several police officers and medical/child services personnel. My two cents: The credibility of the witnesses, the reporting, and the documents appears to be high.

    robtbrown wrote: “There are evil men (secundum operationem, not secundum essentiam), and so it makes sense that there be evil spiritual substances.” I’m an amateur with Aquinas and Latin, but here I’m going with: Indeed.

  70. DanS says:

    Why remain Catholic? I am a 66 year old Catholic. In the 1970’s I left the Catholic Church , became an agnostic, then a Protestant and finally returned to the Catholic Church. I am in a unique position to help answer this question. When I look back on my experiences I would suggest that a better question would be “What do I lose if I leave the Catholic Church?”

    I will skip my long story of why I left the church and why I came back but I will tell you what I missed while I was away. I believe that a person has two basic options: moving towards God or moving away from him. If you move away from God then life gets hard and lonely. God let’s you do what you want. If you move towards him you may still wind up losing your way since it is easy to hear your own will and mistake it for his. The good news is that God will find ways to push you in the right direction, however, the route he takes you on may be the long way around.

    Here is what I missed when I left the church:

    The Holy Eucharist. It is hard to open the eyes of your heart and see the bread as our Lords actual body but we need to try. This is the time when I most clearly hear his voice.

    The Catechism. This is one of the most powerful sources of the beliefs of the Church. Most other churches don’t have anything like this and eventually split into multiple factions. Without the Catechism and other church documents there is no easy way to determine if our personal messages and interpretations of the Bible are truthful.

    The Pope. He is God’s steward. He is not perfect himself but with certain conditions God will guard him from setting a false doctrine of faith or morals for the whole church. He usually pushes us where God wants us to go.

    The Saints. Every time things look very dim the Lord sends special Saints to turn things around. John Paul II is my own personal example and one reason I returned. Maybe you will be the next saint but not if you leave. Maybe even Father Z!

    The beauty of the liturgy. Years ago on the Easter Vigil my wife joined the Church. I watched a procession enter the darkened church with the Paschal Candle lite, and the deacon chanted “The light of Christ” and the people replied “Thanks be to God.” After the procession entered the church the flame from the Paschal Candle was passed to each person in the Church, all carrying unlit candles. Before your eyes you see the darkness erupt into the light of Christ filling every corner of the church. You literally see before you how Christ’s church was born and spread. This is only a small part of what happens that night. You must experience this at least once in your life. It may light a flame deep in your heart too.

    Knowing that no matter when or where we are around the world all of our Sunday Masses are joined together in heaven and form a most powerful prayer. I missed being part of this power.

    Thanking God for all of you!