To restore our Catholic identity

A friend tipped me to the Administrator of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, H.E. Most Rev. Robert J. Herman.  It is posted on LifeSite.

He was remarking on the Pro-Life Mass held in their cathedral.

In his comments he said this, which could have been right off the pages of this blog:

In order to bring about a transformation from a culture of death to a culture of life, we have to restore our Catholic identity.

This means that all of us, as Catholics, have to undergo a profound transformation. It means that we have to take a good look at every facet of our Catholic life, including the serious study of life issues, the regular and devout use of our Sacramental system, especially the devout and weekly attendance at Mass, the regular reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the devout praying of the daily Rosary, and then the faithful, loving and firm witness to lax Catholics about our Catholic beliefs and practices.

There has been a concerted effort for years, decades, to drive the influence of the Catholic Church from the public square, to silence her voice.

Alas, so many influential Catholics have been complicit in this.

The bishop also says:

That Satan is very alive in influencing all of us is his best-kept secret. Becoming steeped in the Word of God and the teachings of the Catholic Church exposes his evil machinations.

We need a revival of our Catholic identity.

We must know who we are and what we believe and then live them both so that we can carry out our vocations as individuals and as a Church.

Much of my work through WDTPRS is about this revitalization of our Catholic identity. 

I think liturgy, properly celebrated in continuity with our tradition, is the key to this. 

The way we pray expresses who we are, but it also shapes who we are.

If we are going to be effective as Catholics we must revive our Catholic identity, embrace it with joy and courage, and live it.

Remember: most of you of a certain age are confirmed.  This sacrament is meant to help you in times of challenge. 

These are times of challenge.

Think of yourselves as confirmed and sealed and under the banner of your King.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Brian Day says:

    I finally got a copy of +Charles Chaput’s book, Render Unto Caesar. I am about half way through. Much of the foundational work in the first half is stressing our Catholic identity. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the book.

  2. Steve K. says:

    God bless you Fr. Z, WDTPRS is a holy banner held high to encourage and strengthen the faithful, in these darkening times. May He console you when the times are tough, and strengthen you against the assaults of the Enemy.

  3. It must be something in the water here. Burke, and then Hermann. And Rigali is no slouch to boot. Now why do we end up with that nun at st Cronin’s, or the St Stan mess…hmm maybe they should drink the water.

    Anyhow, he is absolutely right. We are Roman Catholics. We arent Presbetyrian, We arent Jewish, We Arent Baptist. Roman Catholics, time to act and think like that again.

    As he goes on

    “I think liturgy, properly celebrated in continuity with our tradition, is the key to this”

    I think another interesting thing is his Excellency has carried on the great relationship with ICRSP, which many thought was strictly a “Burke” thing. He also has celebrated atleast to my knowledge 2 solemn pontifical masses , so needless to say he is a great friend and supporter of the traditionalist mind. The thing that is really cool about Bishop Hermann, is he so wonderfully marry’s both old and new in his thought and action. I think our Holy Father is also good at that. In the end, catholic identity needs both old and new, and I see that more and more from both the Holy Father and Bishops like Burke, Hermann, Chaput, and others.

    God Bless those men and strengthen them

  4. Bump my own comment. The Quote belongs to Fr Z . Sorry Sir for the misquote! Should have written “as you go on” , but alas hopefully my point is still made.

  5. Veronica says:

    God Bless Bishops like these who are not afraid to say what must be said. I only wish that I heard this more often. Maybe it is being said more often, and I just don’t know about it. I hope that is the case. I pray that Priests and Bishops across the world start to preach like this. Some people get it and other people need to be hit over the head with it. Let us pray for all the clergy that they are not afraid of saying what is right and true. God Bless you Father Z, your posts are wonderful and I do find that they give me hope in these dark times. I will keep you in my prayers.

  6. KMS says:

    My pastor and I had a long conversation about this very topic today. Thank you for the morale boost.

    We need to pray for our priests, they are being blasted all the time.

    Thank you for your yes.

  7. Gramps says:

    A good start would be when they have a bishops conference that they put on a very simple one page instruction to all Catholics concerning where the church stands on the issue of voting for pro abortion politicians that to do so puts their soul at grave risk. What the USCCB put out as their Faithful Citizenship was simply crap and those who supported it should have been posted on every blog site. Catholics who care should then start sending letters of complain to newspapers and to the vatican seeking releif. Until we get the shepherds doing what they are supposed to do, we will never see much change in sheep. We have to take back our Church from the ObamaCaths.

  8. LeonG says:

    The bishop is absolutely correct. Restoring all things in Christ was very close to Pope St Pius X’s heart. We can do no better than to restore The Church’s most powerful prayer and weapon against evil which is The Holy Sacrifice of The Mass in its proper authentic Roman Catholic form according to Pope St Pius V’s intentions. Once we have re-established the lex orandi of The Church then we will again have restored the lex credendi. This will represent a step forward in the ecclesiastical renaissance we most urgently require. All we have achieved so far is a massive step backwards towards an over-emphasised anthropomorphism and neo-modernist liturgical praxis. There will never be any reverence in this. And as Pope Pius XII prophesied as Cardinal Pacelli, the red lamp would be taken away and we now wonder where they have taken Him.

  9. Andy K. says:

    Fr. Z,
    As posters have said lately…

    Please don’t cease blogging, and let the thought stray from your mind!

    I personally take comfort in this blog. It’s fun to read, you provide wonderful insight, some news stories deserve to be heard (and you help them be heard), and the combox is almost always interesting.

    You serve a needed thing, and we’ll need you ’til you die (or the complete renewal of the Church comes, and all is good). Whichever comes first!

    And, as a note, my anti-spam word is ominous. “Do the red” in red lettering… It also looks like blood running…. OoOOOoooo :-D

  10. Warren says:

    I cannot recall if I heard this quote here at one time, or perhaps FirstThings, but it seems an appropriate echo of Fr. Z’s words (…”The way we pray expresses who we are, but it also shapes who we are.”).

    “In giving (doxologically) we become (ontologically).” In other words, by worship our Christian selves are forged; so worship is not to be judged by what our secular or nonliturgical identity may desire or demand. – Aidan Nichols, commenting on Catherine Pickstock.

  11. Chris from St. Mary's says:

    Perhaps Herman should be the next archbishop. Would that ever happen?

  12. Tom in NY says:

    Two disparate comments
    (1) a TV preacher speaks about “being washed in the blood of the Lamb.” He doesn’t say that his congregation can only wish — they lack Reconciliation and the Eucharist. “Happy are those who are called…”
    (2) Vianney rebuilt his congregation outside Lyons a generation after the Revolution’s bitter turmoil. His image is in many rectories and seminaries. If he can do it…
    Salutationes omnibus.

  13. Dave says:

    It seems to me that something else working against “Catholic identity” is a false understanding of ecumenism by Catholics. At a recent long-range planning meeting at my parish (led by expensive consultants, of course,) one of the recurring themes was getting together with the local Protestant congregations for worship, Bible study, social justice stuff, etc. A couple people made comments along the lines of, “It’s all one universal church; denominational differences don’t matter,” and there were lots of heads nodding approvingly. I was there mainly to propose having more traditional liturgy, and I didn’t want to come across like some kind of right-wing extremist, so I kept my mouth shut.

    I don’t know if I’ve ever read a clear explanation of what ecumenism should be. I would think, though, that it relates to Catholic identity in that we must have a proper understanding of who we are as Catholics before we even think about “dialogue” with other religions. Father Z, I’d appreciate your thoughts on that.

  14. anon says:

    If the identity approximates to the Williamson model then many of us looking sympathetically at the Church will look elsewhere. We do live in the 21st Century and the last Ecumenical Council, Vatican II, deserves to be properly implemented. The fact that its implementation has been botched is no excuse for suggesting that it did not happen or that it changed nothing.

  15. Jeff Pinyan says:

    “There has been a concerted effort for years, decades, to drive the influence of the Catholic Church from the public square, to silence her voice. Alas, so many influential Catholics have been complicit in this.”

    But isn’t that what Vatican II said to do? Oh, wait, no it didn’t. Apostolicam Actuositatem 5 says that the lay faithful must be driven by the same conscience in both orders (believer and citizen). The pesky “Spirit of Vatican II” strikes again!

  16. Tom in NY says:

    A timely message from “Testem benevolentiae” to Gibbons a hundred years ago was to cooperate with Reform brothers but don’t forget your own identity. That message works as well today as then.
    A sound Catholic bible class will highlight deep differences from Reform on the Church’s role in interpreting Scripture. Nor could Leo XIII have foreseen the rise of modernism or fundamentalism.
    Cooperation in a community food pantry may raise fewer questions. “Social justice” would raise issues on the role of government and free enterprise in society and highlight differences on marriage and family.
    You may want to refresh your own position before you reach out.
    Salutationes omnibus.

  17. Joao says:


    A seguito delle reazioni suscitate dal recente Decreto della Congregazione per i Vescovi, con cui si rimette la scomunica ai quattro Presuli della Fraternità San Pio X, e in relazione alle dichiarazioni negazioniste o riduzioniste della Shoah da parte del Vescovo Williamson della medesima Fraternità, si ritiene opportuno chiarire alcuni aspetti della vicenda.

    1. Remissione della scomunica.

    Come già pubblicato in precedenza, il Decreto della Congregazione per i Vescovi, datato 21 gennaio 2009, è stato un atto con cui il Santo Padre veniva benignamente incontro a reiterate richieste da parte del Superiore Generale della Fraternità San Pio X.

    Sua Santità ha voluto togliere un impedimento che pregiudicava l’apertura di una porta al dialogo. Egli ora si attende che uguale disponibilità venga espressa dai quattro Vescovi in totale adesione alla dottrina e alla disciplina della Chiesa.

    La gravissima pena della scomunica latae sententiae, in cui detti Vescovi erano incorsi il 30 giugno 1988, dichiarata poi formalmente il 1° luglio dello stesso anno, era una conseguenza della loro ordinazione illegittima da parte di Mons. Marcel Lefebvre.

    Lo scioglimento dalla scomunica ha liberato i quattro Vescovi da una pena canonica gravissima, ma non ha cambiato la situazione giuridica della Fraternità San Pio X, che, al momento attuale, non gode di alcun riconoscimento canonico nella Chiesa Cattolica. Anche i quattro Vescovi, benché sciolti dalla scomunica, non hanno una funzione canonica nella Chiesa e non esercitano lecitamente un ministero in essa.

    2. Tradizione, dottrina e Concilio Vaticano II.

    Per un futuro riconoscimento della Fraternità San Pio X è condizione indispensabile il pieno riconoscimento del Concilio Vaticano II e del Magistero dei Papi Giovanni XXIII, Paolo VI, Giovanni Paolo I, Giovanni Paolo II e dello stesso Benedetto XVI.

    Come è già stato affermato nel Decreto del 21 gennaio 2009, la Santa Sede non mancherà, nei modi giudicati opportuni, di approfondire con gli interessati le questioni ancora aperte, così da poter giungere ad una piena e soddisfacente soluzione dei problemi che hanno dato origine a questa dolorosa frattura.

    3. Dichiarazioni sulla Shoah.

    Le posizioni di Mons. Williamson sulla Shoah sono assolutamente inaccettabili e fermamente rifiutate dal Santo Padre, come Egli stesso ha rimarcato il 28 gennaio scorso quando, riferendosi a quell’efferato genocidio, ha ribadito la Sua piena e indiscutibile solidarietà con i nostri Fratelli destinatari della Prima Alleanza, e ha affermato che la memoria di quel terribile genocidio deve indurre “l’umanità a riflettere sulla imprevedibile potenza del male quando conquista il cuore dell’uomo”, aggiungendo che la Shoah resta “per tutti monito contro l’oblio, contro la negazione o il riduzionismo, perché la violenza fatta contro un solo essere umano è violenza contro tutti”.

    Il Vescovo Williamson, per una ammissione a funzioni episcopali nella Chiesa dovrà anche prendere in modo assolutamente inequivocabile e pubblico le distanze dalle sue posizioni riguardanti la Shoah, non conosciute dal Santo Padre nel momento della remissione della scomunica.

    Il Santo Padre chiede l’accompagnamento della preghiera di tutti i fedeli, affinché il Signore illumini il cammino della Chiesa. Cresca l’impegno dei Pastori e di tutti i fedeli a sostegno della delicata e gravosa missione del Successore dell’Apostolo Pietro quale “custode dell’unità” nella Chiesa.

    Dal Vaticano, 4 febbraio 2009

    [00216-01.01] [Testo originale: Italiano]


  18. Anthony says:

    I think it’s very fitting that our parish high school retreat’s theme is “Catholic Identity!” I’ve been asked to come up with the teens for the weekend to lead talks on Catholic Prayer and the boy’s session on Chastity in today’s society. It’s sad how we’ve failed an entire generation of Catholics when it comes to teaching the fundamentals of the faith, but we have the opportunity now to bring about the change that’s needed. As a young man of 26, I can say that our generation is hungry for that sense of identity, not the false idols of politics, power, sex, and greed.

  19. Thomas says:

    Father, thank you for this:

    “Think of yourselves as confirmed and sealed and under the banner of your King.”

    I sometimes find it a challenge to use the gifts of Confirmation and thus sometimes think it is a sacrament “wasted” on the young, because I was confirmed at 13, and I am now 41 and need the graces of the Sacrament more than ever. Your comment reminds me that the gifts of the Spitit are eternal, and it give me a image(I am very visual) to assist me in opening my heart to those gifts.

    You rock.

    Thomas in MD

  20. Tom in NY says:

    Politics, power, sex and greed have long histories in the world when and where the Church began. You can start with the conquests that brought the Hellenistic world, and move to the examples of republican and imperial Rome. Even then the Christians were “different.”
    And it’s not as if the post-Roman or Byzantine periods lacked the desires mentioned above. Medieval lords couldn’t produce their realm’s riches so many stole prosperity from their neighbors. Put Alexander Borgia on your list. A bit later, you can add the French Revolution, the introduction to modern times.
    The hunger for God has always existed. The faithful should feed it.

  21. Ed says:

    Re: Most Rev. Robert J. Herman’s observation –

    “and then the faithful, loving and firm witness to lax Catholics about our Catholic beliefs and practices.”

    As Pope Benedict constantly asserts, Catholic beliefs and practices are born and live in Love. If they don’t, then it’s not Christ’s church, but some other “human” invention. It’s not enough to just show up “as required.”

    “A Eucharist which does not pass over into the concrete practice of love is intrinsically fragmented.” Pope Benedict’s “Deus Caritas Est”

    Judgements about laxity are dangerous as warrants for self-justification.

    As we stand in support of our Pope, his views on what constitute “our Catholic beliefs and practices” seem worth at least some consideration, before we take pride in our spotless attendence records.

    If explicit Gospel admonitions regarding love, charity, forgiveness, and not judging, are not considered a worthy starting point for our enacted beliefs and practices;

    if Pope Benedict’s repeated, yet gentle remonstrances regarding our duties as Christians and Neighbors can be ignored while we “defend” him from detractors,

    then an examination of conscience is in order, regarding our own “laxed” state, prior to parading our “holiness” before the other “laxed” and non-Christians of the world.

  22. Peter says:

    I think the time of being “different” by being “the same” is passing away. More and more young people want to know the real Church – they’re not going to belong to something just because they were raised that way or because their parents want them to. We have the only answers that will satisfy, we just need to be willing to give those answers and do so with conviction. It’s not hard we just, as my Dad would say, “have to do it”. Goes right up with his axiom of “do it right or don’t do it at all.”

  23. irishgirl says:

    Good for Bishop Hermann! Yeah, there’s got to be something in the St. Louis water….

    And ‘you rock’ too, Fr. Z!

  24. Joan Ellen says:

    1.Laxity…Webster…2. A Lack of moral principle, of strictness, reminds me of discipline as in disciple. In my weak mind whether we are liberal, conservative or traditional we have become lax.
    2.Fr. Z, you call us to increase and show our Catholic Identity through especially the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Rosary, the Sacraments, especially confession. Bishop Hermann calls us to be steeped in the word of God and Catholic teaching, and to put that into our beliefs and practices (perhaps this is a good time to read or re-read the VII Docs, especially the 6 that will be looked at in the light of Tradition), and the Holy Father calls us to love, and a new effort in our fasting this Lent, which begins in 3 weeks.
    3. This post calls for a call to “Do The Red” in the Mass, and in martyrdom, (Andy K.), and “The hunger for God has always existed. The faithful should feed it.” (Tom in NY 4 Feb. 8:47 a.m.)
    4.Charity and unity through Prayer. Penance. Words. Works. Martyrdom.
    5.Thank you Fr. Z for this blog. For calling us to charity and unity. For giving we the faithful, known as the University of the Faithful, when we believe in union with the teaching magisterium of the Church…LG, 2, 12…an opportunity to show charity and unity.

  25. ED says:

    Let’s hope because of all this criticism he’s recieving The Pope doesn’t start appointing men who are beauracrats as Bishops and who dont love the faith as Chaput, Herman ,Burke and a handful of others.

  26. Genevieve says:

    Fr. Z,
    To help in strengthening our identity as Catholics, I am attempting to revive a domestic church for me and my husband. This includes, but is not limited to, daily readings and hymns and the celebration of feast days with special food. I know you post on food. Do you ever post on… St. Michael’s Bannock? or hot cross buns? What is your opinon on using “our daily bread” in this way?

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