United States of America: “Mission Territory”. Wherein Fr. Z rants.

For a long time the Church in the USA was under the aegis of the Holy See’s then Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, called now the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. This is why, for example, the seminarians at the North American College in Rome and at the Pontifical Seminary “Josephinum” in the USA wear the same cassock as the seminarians of the Propaganda Fide College in Rome. Mission countries were in many important spheres under the governance of Propaganda. That changed as the Church in the USA, “a Christian country”, was able to sustain itself.

And now?

Dioceses are declaring bankrupcy. Identity is crumbling. The decidedly post-Christian Obama Administration, with its anti-Catholic catholics such as VP Biden and HHS Sec. Kathleen Sebelius, are viciously attacking our 1st Amendment religious freedoms.

Many years ago I was chewing the fat with an American bishop. I asked him, “What do we do to turn things around in the USA?” He responded, “The first thing we have to do is stop blowing happy gas!”

In sum, things are terrible. Yes, there are signs here and there of an awakening of Catholic identity, but things are simply dreadful, all in all. Maybe that is what we need: the Church grew from the seeds of the martyr’s blood drops.

On that note, I read with interest the comment by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia:

“The Archdiocese of Philadelphia . . . is now really a mission territory.”

Of course it is, Your Excellency! It has been for a long time!

What is encouraging is that Archbishop Chaput had the guts to say it and Card. Dolan of New York openly agreed.

If the USA is mission territory, then every US Catholic is a missionary.

But when have we not been?

Before His Ascension, Christ said “Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.” (Matthew 28:19-20 Douay)

All Catholics are called to the sequela Christi, the following of Christ, to become holy, to be saints. We strive to become saints for ourselves, because we desire our salvation, but also for others, whom we have an obligation to help to salvation from love of God and neighbor.
Our Faith is for us, and our Faith is for others.

There is no authentic Catholic life without a mission to others. Even hermits and the cloistered are missionaries. The cloistered Carmelite St. Therese de Lisieux was named Patroness of Missionaries. If she was a missionary in her convent, how are we not all the more missionaries?

The Christian is called to holiness. The Christians is called to give witness. Christian witness is manifested first in the pursuit of holiness. Some are called to the special witness of the exercise of virtues in a heroic manner according to the circumstances and the opportunities which present themselves. Others are called to the outstanding but bloody witness of martyrdom. All are called to witness, however, for salvation is not just for ourselves alone. We are not islands. Unity in Christ necessarily means love of neighbor, which requires sacrificial love and choices that aim at the good of the other.

In this age which is ever more hostile to the Christian Faith and to “the Catholic Thing” in particular, how are we not being offered opportunities to give witness? Holiness is for ourselves, and it is for others. There is always an opportunity to be on mission in his Church Militant.

The rich modern West is mission country.  Rich in material, at least for now, we are impoverished in spirit and in the spiritual.

May I now refer you back to my rant, tirade, jeremiad? My manifesto after the Notre Shame debacle? HERE.

Since Pope Benedict’s election I have thought that a principle aim of his pontificate is to revitalize our Catholic identity. Just as in the Marshall Plan the US rebuilt war-torn Europe to create good trading partners and foster a bulwark against Communism, so to Pope Benedict is trying to build a bulwark against the dictatorship of relativism through a revitalization of our Catholic identity. To my mind, and I think also to Papa Ratzinger’s mind – if I know anything about his thought – at the heart of what must be done to strengthen our identity is the revitalization of our worship of Almighty God.

Liturgical worship is the key and sine qua non for any rebuilding of our Catholic identity.

As I wrote in my aforementioned tirade…

I urge all priests and bishops who read this blog with any slight quaver of resonance or benevolence, to consider this with care:

If you sense that something quite serious and important is going on right now, for the love of God rethink your approach to how you foster Holy Church’s proper public worship.

Do all in your power and through your influence to foster a worship of God which conforms not to worldly goals – as praiseworthy as they may be in a world still dominated by its dire prince – but rather to the real point of religion: an encounter with mystery.

Our worship must become more and more focused on the one who is Other. Seek what is truly above in your rites and raise people to encounter mystery.

You will be challenged and reviled, blocked and attacked as you do. You will be worn down and afraid under the weight of resistance.

To save the world we must save the liturgy.


Holy Catholic worship will be an attractive force for conversion.

We need to foster worship which stuns, which leaves the newcomer, long-time practicing Catholic, above all the fallen-away simply thunder stuck. Worship must at some point leave people speechless in awe. We need language and music and gesture which in its beauty floods the mind with light even while it swells the heart to bursting.

The more people encounter mystery through liturgy, the more hollow will clang the false or incomplete messages of those who have strayed from the good path, either to the left or to the right.

Our goal must be that which is good and beautiful because it is true, that which reflects what is of God, not man’s image merely. Give us mystery, not fabrications smacking of the world, fallen and transitory.

Fathers, and you Reverend Bishops, if anything of alarm has sounded in your hearts and minds of late, rethink your approach to our worship. Examine your approach with an eye on the signs of the times. Take a new approach.

The approach we have had least last few decades isn’t getting it done. Really … it isn’t

Going neither left nor right along the road toward the Lord, even as He comes to us, take the flock now deeper, now higher on that path, but always to encounter the mystery which distinguishes truly Catholic liturgy… and therefore true Catholics.

Lines are being drawn, sides taken, choices made.

More than ever we need what Christ, the true Actor of our liturgy, desires to offer us through Holy Church’s worship.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Benedict XVI, Brick by Brick, GO TO CONFESSION, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity, Religious Liberty, The Drill, The future and our choices, The Last Acceptable Prejudice, Year of Faith and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Do the Church need bishops and pastors who will say to Catholics . . . . If you don’t want to accept all the Church teaches, or don’t like authentic Catholic worship, then the diocese and parish will have to manage without your donations.

    So often do we hear of pastors fearing that if they did what they really think is right, then people would stop coming (and giving).

    Does it just boil down to whether a possibly (and temporarily?) smaller but more faithful church would be a good thing?

  2. Henry: smaller but more faithful church would be a good thing?

    Inevitable. But what will we do with the responsibility of being members of a smaller more faithful Church?

  3. Supertradmum says:

    I have known Great Britain and America to be mission countries for a long time. Are some bishops just noticing this? Wow! Have they been paying attention to the families in their own churches and the level of non-catechized Catholics? Have they seen the statistics of church-going Catholics? Have they understood the rot in the colleges and universities?

    My very first family-member to come to the States on my mom’s side was a missionary priest. More followed. Nothing has changed much in the Midwest, where most people are Protestants and have been since pioneer days. I cannot get over the blindness. God help us all if our own leaders cannot see the real situation. I am a missionary because I am a baptized Catholic. Aren’t we all?

  4. Jay E says:

    It’s not just the U.S. Any place where there are people with a heartbeat is mission territory. And will be until the Second Coming. That’s kind of the point of why there is a Church in the first place – to go forth and preach the Gospel to all nations. If you’re a Catholic, you’re a missionary. Which means you have a solemn duty to bring everyone around you to Jesus Christ and the Church. It’s nice to know that the bishops are finally emphasizing this again.

  5. St. Rafael says:

    Fathers, and you Reverend Bishops, if anything of alarm has sounded in your hearts and minds of late, rethink your approach to our worship. Examine your approach with an eye on the signs of the times. Take a new approach.

    The biggest reform needed right now is the orientation of the priest during the Mass. You can start with having all Masses being celebrated Ad Orientem. Have the priest face God with the tabernacle behind the altar, as he leads the faithful in celebrating the Mass as we all face the liturgical East.

    Ban altar girls from your diocese and parishes. Install men to take the lead as altar servers and have them lead all the young boys that will begin flocking to serve beside them.

    Have priests at parishes help each other out in the distribution of the Sacred Host. The laity have no business distributing or touching the Sacred Host. To touch the Sacred Host is a privilege of the ordained. Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Commnuion are overused and hardly needed at most Sunday Masses. This can de done by restoring Communion under one species as the norm. The chalice should be distributed only on certain feast days and sacraments. Encourage reception of Communion on the Tongue. Install altar rails to aid the faithful who want to kneel for Communion. It adds reverence and beauty to a parish.

    Restore Sacred Music and Gregorian Chant to our parishes! The current liturgical music in this country is abysmal. The music at the vast majority of parishes is just plain awful. Priests, please learn to sing and chant to best of your ability.

  6. Roguejim says:

    My pastor has told me that the Masses at my parish (all O.F.) are in conformity with Sacrosanctum Concilium, and are faithful to what the Council Fathers intended, “at least in the big things”. Of course, my pastor is also prone to employing liturgical profanation(?) (dogs, 8-ft step ladders)as a means of enhancing his homilies. The Archbishop hosts Mariachi Masses, and teen-directed Masses replete with rock instrumentation.

    So please tell me, how is a laymen supposed to evangelize, invite non-Catholics into the Church, in the face of such liturgical buffoonery? How do I explain the mystery of the Mass, when by all appearances, there is absolutely nothing mysterious about it? In fact, everything seems to speak against mystery. It’s as if we’ve had our legs broken, and been told to win a race.

  7. St. Rafael says:

    The United States will always be mission territory until the day that is a Catholic country. The day that the majority of its people are Catholic and the official religion is Catholicism. It is the duty of every Catholic to convert this nation to a Catholic state, even though we will most likely not live to see it become one. It took pagan Rome 300 years to become Catholic and see Catholicism recognized as the official religion. The apostles did not live to see it become Catholic, but they worked among the persecutions and martyrdoms until they died, knowing that the goal would be reached one day. Their fruit grew and gew until the centuries passed, and the day came when it became the official state religion.

  8. wmeyer says:

    A downside of being a mission land is that Sacrosanctum concilium grants more leeway in local adaptations of the liturgy.

  9. heway says:

    Couldn’t agree more, Father….but as a daughter of Vatican II, I must point to Chapter IV on the laity. This document prompted me to quit my job and volunteer in a missionary apostolate of my diocese. Of course I was much younger and unmarried. I carry a pamphlet with the documents in my binder, so wherever and whenever I attend a meeting, I have the words which are a command to the laity. Regardless of the position of the altar, we worship, adore and obey the Presence in the tabernacle. We have been confirmed, received the Spirit at Baptism, and have a duty as laymen, regardless of our Bishop’s lack of responsibility…sorry, don’t want to rant!

  10. Oorah.

    It’s a pity it took their Excellencies and Eminences so long to notice this, but better late than never. How much has our culture declined because we Catholics have been so caught up in the Church identity wars? Fighting battles on two fronts is never easy, but we have the help of our Blessed Lord. If he is with us, who can stand against us? Everyone is wounded but everyone fights.

  11. Traductora says:

    Excellent, excellent post! But I just want to say, as someone who returned yesterday from that most (formerly) Catholic country of Spain, that it’s not just the US that is mission territory.

    While there are many defenders of Vatican II here (and I agree that it had its positive aspects) , no one can deny that it destroyed the Catholic culture of Europe. To Europeans, their Christian history is a closed book or a book written in a language they can no longer read.

    I met several younger parish and order priests in Europe who were obviously themselves believers but were terrified of really preaching the message because they knew in advance that they would be rejected and ridiculed. So I don’t think it’s only an American problem: we need once again, in every continent and country, to raise up saints who will go out and preach to that continent or country as if it were the first time.

    One of the great mysteries to me is why God let Vatican II happen, because it destroyed not only the liturgy and theology, but the deep Catholic culture and its artistic and musical expression of millenia.

  12. Thank you, Fr. Z!!

    This is exactly what we need to hear. Not just what to do but how to do it. I, for one, am sick of hearing all this talk about the New Evangelization without any explanation on what it truly means to be a missionary and how we are to do so. These days, it seems, all we hear is how we need to “show everyone we meet God’s goodness and love” and to “bring others to Jesus”. Without further elaboration, this sounds incredibly uninspiring and downright wimpy.

    We need to stress, today more than ever, that the highest form of charity we can show is charity for souls. In contrast, the lowest form of charity is “niceness,” as we think of it today. True love can, in fact, involve being decidedly “un-nice” in the eyes of the world; for example, by stating, upholding, and proposing to others those truths–particularly moral truths–that others don’t necessarily want to hear but are just as necessarily important to their eternal salvation.

    We need to stress that “bringing others to Jesus” is synonymous with bringing others into his mystical body–the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, in which is found the fullness of God’s truth and grace and outside of which there is no salvation. As Fr. Z points out, having a liturgy that manifests this God-given dignity is absolutely essential.

    Ultimately, the baptized Catholic’s calling to be a missionary is an incredibly urgent duty because souls are at stake. When we replace this all-important focus on the eternal with a trivial focus on an ambiguously-defined temporal the missionary call loses all urgency and, in the minds of many, all importance.

  13. Marlon says:

    To add to what Spertradmum said–there is not only rot in our colleges and universities but in our so-called catholic high schools, elementary schools, and PSR programs. Those are all prime mission fields as well.

  14. jm says:

    Peter Kreeft’s similar comment:

    “a majority of Catholics today not only don’t know the basic doctrines of Catholic theology anymore, they don’t even know how to get to heaven!

    I’m not suggesting, as many Protestant fundamentalists do, that most Catholics aren’t saved. But I am suggesting that perhaps most will be saved as good pagans, not as Catholic Christians. For when the time comes to present their entrance ticket for the heavenly plane God has a large angel air force: See Mark 13:27, they won’t even mention their Savior, but will rely instead on the same old “other gospel” the Galatians relied on- the law-or more likely, on the updated, “soft” revision of it, good intentions. “I’m a good person,” “I try to do good,” “I’m sincere” and “I try not to hurt people” are four of the most common counterfeit tickets I see. They all begin with the same fatal word.”

  15. Clinton says:

    Fr. Z, while I have some ideas on what our hierarchy could do about our current situation, I
    think those ideas aren’t anything that wouldn’t already occur to any fair-minded clergyman that
    read your post with an open mind and his blinders off.

    However, I think I do have one fine suggestion, as a layman, for my fellow laymen. For heaven’s
    sake, invite people to Mass and Confession! We all know fallen-away Catholics– they’re
    our friends, our co-workers, our family. Just ask them to come to Mass! What’s the worst
    thing that’ll happen– they’ll say ‘no thanks’? Try another day. Ask ’em to go with you when
    you go to Confession. Even if they don’t take you up on it that one time, I guarantee you’ll be
    amazed at the conversation that’ll ensue. Keep the door open and the invitation out there.
    It costs nothing to invite folks and to follow up with them if they do indeed go– it’s something
    we can all do.

    (By the way, one huge benefit I’ve found to trying to bring folks to church is that it forces me
    to take a long, hard look at myself and what it is about me that might make people less
    apt to come to Mass. It’s a strong tonic.)

  16. Supertradmum says:

    jm, a pagan is defined as a person who believes in many gods. And, if one is baptized a Catholic, they are not a pagan, but an Catholic still, albeit fallen away. Once a Catholic, always a Catholic. Apostasy is the sin of a Catholic. One may live like a neo-pagan, or an atheist, but in baptism and confirmation we are given an indelible mark which the unbaptized, the real heathen does not have. If Catholics do not know their faith and live less than Catholic lives, they are still Catholics, but acting and believing like Protestants, for the most part. Remember Fulton J. Sheen’s famous quotation. “What do you call an ignorant Catholic? A Protestant.” Or variations of paraphrase thereof.

  17. Dymphna says:

    How does a parish overcome decades of literally throwing away breathtaking marble sculpture and altars and putting in their place, cheap “art” and buildings that look like little more than auditoriums, ski lodges, or Pizza Huts filled with people who would never consider coming 10 minutes early to Mass to pray or staying 5 minutes after Holy Communion?

    At the moment, I am going through a spiritually dry period, in part because of the above. I hunger with all my heart and soul for “worship which stuns” and a congregation that is awake.

    We had a visiting priest the other weekend who, after seeing how few people were present after the opening hymn, sat everyone down and basically preached for 10 minutes. I was really taken aback at first, until I realized why he was doing this. After 3 Masses of this, he told the congregation, “I’ve never seen a parish where everyone is late.” (I realize what he did was not proper, but I’m actually glad he said something–the elephant in the Catholic living room, so to speak.)

  18. Long-Skirts says:


    Vestments of red
    Altar cloth too
    Martyrs who bled
    Did this for you.

    Gold Tabernacles
    Veiled in red’s hue
    Martyrs in shackles
    Hung for this view.

    Red mums full bloomed
    In water and brass
    Martyrs consumed
    Burned for this Mass.

    Red rays of sun
    Rose-streak the nave
    Their suffering done –
    Now red we must crave!

  19. jrpascucci says:

    “If anything of alarm has sounded in your hearts and minds of late, rethink your approach to our worship”.

    I wonder if there isn’t a level of cortisol-tolerance that has built up from all the alarms there have been since at least the ’80s. I certainly feel like the spiritual adrenals of the body of Christ in this age are a bit tapped out. I’m almost certain at this time that even the Dies Irae couldn’t really get my blood pressure up any higher, so calls for alarm might fall on deaf ears.

    Maybe we need a different stimulus than ‘alarm’: I’d like an articulated “Marshall Plan” to which I could sign on, instead of hoping one is there behind the seeming madness, like some conspiracy-theory-except-good-this-time.

    Why can’t we have it out in the open? It’s pusillanimous to not say what is on your mind, if indeed, it’s that. I mean, is anybody from Pope Benedict down really afraid people will suddenly stop liking us at this point if we as a body decide to go out of our way to live up to what we have received in fullness? Are we so timorous about the many sensitive souls (that is not a compliment) who claim the name Catholic but are unfaithful in their hearts that we have to fool them into coming to the fullness of Christ? Is there literally nobody who is in a position of authority who is sufficiently fed up at the current state so as to become willing to pull the many triggers that need to be pulled – and which they have both authority and, indeed, the responsibility to pull? There is certainly no silver bullet to the Church’s problems – but there are plenty of lead ones that ought to be en route right about now.

  20. Traductora says: One of the great mysteries to me is why God let Vatican II happen, because it destroyed not only the liturgy and theology, but the deep Catholic culture and its artistic and musical expression of millenia.

    The rot was already there, and advanced, by the time the Council convened. St. Pius X recognized it and warned about it decades earlier. The Church was already full of enemies, and the Council was their opportunity to spring into action.

  21. Supertradmum says:

    Vatican II was not the beginning of the problems-modernist heresies among them-but in some ways the flowering of ideas all the way back to Pope Pius IX. One forgets that we all, bishops and cardinals included, have free will.

  22. Suburbanbanshee says:

    It’s happened before, and it’s been worse. The Cure of Ars was in mission territory. Countless reforming saints have been in mission territory.

    In Christ, all things are possible. We can do at least as well as what other Catholics have done.

  23. thomas tucker says:

    I would add that the horrors of WWI and WWII had their roles to play also.

  24. acardnal says:

    In sum: Save the Liturgy, Save the World.

  25. Amen!

    Sometimes it seems that the proposed solutions by some are worse than the problem itself. We can not give what we do not have. The reformation of the Liturgy will take us a long way on the road to sanity.

  26. LadyMarchmain says:

    Father, your description of the effect a mass should have reminded me of the scene in the Cathedral at the end of “The Way” where everyone was blown away and the lapsed Catholic Irishman wept.

    I sometimes think the Latin mass was taken away so that we would appreciate it more. It also offers a great opportunity to entice the lapsed or other Christians who are curious.

    Roguejim, I feel as you do, and also that our supernatural supports are knocked out from under as well, if we can’t be enrolled in scapulars or have our rosaries blessed. Is there a traditional Latin mass near you?

  27. OrthodoxChick says:

    @acardnal and Fr. Z. – Amen!

    My humble suggestions as to what we laity can do.

    1. Approach your pastor and let him know that if he is considering introducing (re-introducing) traditional liturgical reforms at your parish, that you will openly support him among the parishoners and help explain it in conversation to your fellow laity who do not understand (and/or do not want to understand).

    2. Consider setting up family catechesis nights in your parish. We’re going to try this in the fall and are planning it now in my parish. We are planning a potluck buffet to follow after a talk that our Deacon will likely give. Catechetical talks will begin with the most basic issues that we feel will benefit the poorly catechized and fallen-away the most. Right now, it’s looking like we’ll begin with “Why Do we as Catholics believe in God?” Atheism is everywhere and seems to be infecting catholics who attend Mass weekly, if out of habit. The combination of atheism, pop culture attitudes and poor catechesis is a deadly combination. Sharing catechesis and a meal as a parish family in a prayerful atmosphere can be another way to support our pastors in their work to serve us and the Lord.

  28. Michael_Thoma says:

    As a mission territory with representation from multiple Sui Iuris Churches, are the Eastern Church just as required to be Catholic, to be mission – or is it only for the Latins – as has been told in the past? In my understanding, every Catholic is to be a missionary/witness always. The past pains caused by the Latin Churches against their Eastern brethren in the past should not be forgotten, so as to never repeat them!

  29. Clinton R. says:

    Very thought provoking post, Father. Before I criticize the clergy, I really need to look within myself and ask what I can do to improve the dire situation the Church Militant finds herself in. I wholly agree with those who desire a return to Mass ad orientem and a removal of girl altar boys and laymen giving Holy Communion. Let the priest be the priest. They are plenty of things we laity can and should do. Infringing on the duties of the priest during Mass should not be one of them.

  30. PA mom says:

    Oh, to have break your heart beauty during Mass… Hans’t anyone ever thought that might be why so many separated Catholics come for Christmas?

  31. Michael_Thoma says:

    Looks like my comment disappeared.. I originally mentioned something of the Eastern Catholic Churches.

    Is this mission territory of the USA limited to the Latin Church only, or do the sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches have the same God-ordered mission to be missionaries to all people? I hope the past pains caused by the Latin Churches toward their Eastern Catholic brethren, as had happened in the past, do not repeat themselves.

    From what I understand of the Faith – all Catholics are called to be missionaries/witnesses at all times. From this perspective, all Catholic Churches have the same mission, to reach out and bring in the lost – whether they are protestants, ex-Catholics, atheists, or other religions. That does NOT limit any area to only the Latin Church, especially in a land like the USA or Canada, where the charism of the Eastern Churches can truly fill those longing for fulfillment.

  32. Traductora says:

    Miss Anita Moore, I agree. The rot was definitely there and the pre-Conciliar Church was not the paradise of orthodoxy that some younger conservative Catholics believe it to have been. I think at least some of the Council fathers were aware of this and probably thought that the Council would be a solution, but others were, as you said, just waiting for their chance to extend the rot to the entire Church.

  33. The Sicilian Woman says:

    My pastor has never let up on the congregation’s need to respond, “Our life is mission,” from the Pauline year from 2-3 years back, which we’ve repeated just prior to the homily since then. (At least, I think it was something he imposed.)

    Unfortunately, the 70s and 80s catechism equipped people like myself to be pretty poor missionaries. It provided us an almost-empty Bic-lighter when we need a torch. Even in calm and friendly discussions, such as one I had recently with a Protestant friend firm in her faith (and no fan of the Pope), I wasn’t able to explain Church teaching nearly as well as I should have been.

  34. acardnal says:

    For anyone who wants to learn or relearn the catechism, I recommend the following home study course written by the late Servant of God, Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ. I have completed both:

    A. “The Basic Catechism Course” available here:

    B. “The Advanced Catechism Course” available here:

  35. Kathleen10 says:

    One of the reasons why it is so critical that America be re-evangelized is that America is still considered a leader in world affairs, despite the apparent intentions of some politicians today to undermine that. What America produces, it exports, and that includes paganism or atheism. We do this in large part by our media, actual news programs and social media including films and online articles and so on. Not to mention what ills and evil our own government inflicts on other countries before offering monies and support, it’s quite an effect we have. There is a numerical point to be made somewhere here, but I can’t make it. All I can say is that while it is very worthwhile to explain salvation to a tribal group way out in the forest of Belize on a mission trip, it is possible to impact thousands or more of people by influencing Americans with the Gospel, in that who knows what media that person may employ to influence thousands of others?
    What did Mother Teresa once say about the U.S., that it was here she experienced “great poverty” as compared to other nations, in that we are so spiritually poor.
    We have to first love our Catholic faith before we can aptly share it with others. On this site, we do. It’s clear that anyone who visits this site regularly loves our Catholic faith, and most of us seem to experience frustration in knowing the beauty we sense or remember is there, is too often not visible in our own parishes. I feel frustrated as well, often.
    It seems like we are on the right track. The action of the Holy Spirit is the most effective method of evangelization. It is the Holy Spirit that changes minds and warms hearts. More prayer, or in my case, some prayer, as I admit, I’m the worst on prayer.
    I’m certainly encouraged as many are, by our own Fr. Z. God bless you, Father Z., and all other priests and bishops who clearly are trying to turn things around.

  36. robtbrown says:

    Suburbanbanshee says:

    It’s happened before, and it’s been worse. The Cure of Ars was in mission territory. Countless reforming saints have been in mission territory.

    True, but now the problems have seeped into the worship of the Church, the liturgy, which is the source of Catholiclife.

  37. Suburbanbanshee says:

    France had liturgy problems, too. That was part of why things blew up so badly in France, in so many directions at once. Here’s a little page about the Gallican Church, aka “The eldest daughter of the Church wants to be Anglican while still getting Catholic bennies.” This ended with the French Revolution, but of course a lot of people wanted to bring it back after the Revolution. And this is why towns like Ars were totally screwed up – a generation of practically godless Catholicism followed by a generation of actual godlessness.

    We really need a show about Catholic history parallels. There is nothing new under the Sun, and that includes cruddy situations.

  38. heway says:

    @ Jim…take a look at . I carry their cards in my purse and have given out many..

  39. John 6:54 says:

    I think one of the main problems today is the current majority of Priests and Bishops are too concerned with being “pastoral” than they are about saving souls.

  40. robtbrown says:

    Suburbanbanshee says:

    France had liturgy problems, too. That was part of why things blew up so badly in France, in so many directions at once.

    Any liturgical problems in Gallicanism were not being enforced by the authority of Rome.

    I agree that there is nothing new under the sun–as Maritain said, the Gnostics were the first Modernists. The ancient heresies were mixed with a shot of Marxism.

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  43. Cathy says:

    Where I am, we have experienced that we are, indeed, missionary territory. Our pastoral associates, who have come to be pastors in the diocese have been from India, Ireland, Nigeria and Singapore. I cannot tell you how profoundly grateful I am for these dear priests and their capacity to see beyond apparent the apparent wealth and comfort of the people they serve. They seem to know just how poor we truly are.

  44. Kephas says:

    Amen…and a thousand times: AMEN!!!

  45. JonPatrick says:

    I am afraid things will get worse in this country. I am not happy with the way the election campaign is going, with the Obama forces able to define Romney at will without an effective response. If Obama is able to pull off a win in spite of his abysmal record, the forces against us will be unleashed once the need to appear moderate in order to win the election is gone. Perhaps this is a chastisement that we deserve because of our complacency in the past.

    I am not optimistic that we will see a liturgical renewal in the near future. Perhaps if the FSSPX is brought into full communion, that would send a clear message. It’s true that the furor over the HHS mandate and the religious freedom issue have awakened people but it does not as yet seem to have caused people to make a connection between the strength of our faith and the quality of our liturgy.

  46. Midwest St. Michael says:

    ACardinal brings up something I wanted to add to this discussion: *Materials* for evangelization.

    Certainly, Fr. Zs focus on this post is *how we worship* (absolutely correct!). Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi – Save the Liturgy, Save the World. True, that is the place to start. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass needs to be the place to start the mission work.

    Then what will we use to try to help Catholics and non-Catholics learn their faith? The Catechism? (or any other Magisterial document) No, one priest told me that it was “too lofty” for most people. Fr. Hardon’s material? (all excellent) Oh no! He’s “too conservative”! He “focuses too much on Eucharistic Adoration.”

    EWTN? “Too charismaticy.” Scott Hahn? “Too conservative” (and he appears on EWTN). The early Church Fathers? “Out of date and out of touch.” Apologetics? (*my* approach to catechesis and evangelization)? “No, since Vatican II the Church’s focus is ecumenical. We can’t tell others that their faith is not true!” The Council of Trent? (or Roman Catechsim) “All of that was changed when Vatican II came along.” Catholic Answers? “Too conservative and their approach is apologetics.” Ignatius Press or Angelus Press? “Right wingers.”

    The material used in our diocese for “adult continuing education” was/is by the likes of Rahner, Schillebeeckx, McBrien, Rosemary Reuther, Thomas Groome, Richard Rohr, Patrick Kennedy… you know, the stuff people from Call to Action like to hand out for “catechesis.” All under the auspices of a “balance” in Catholicism. The folks mentioned above are just as Catholic in their “theology” and “catechesis” as Ratzinger and Wojtyla, dontcha know?!

    See my point?

    Somebody mentioned above about using handouts or pamphlets. Great! Who publishes them? Your diocese? The USCCB? If so they are most likely full of “go along, to get along” and “meeting people where they are at” blather and nothingness – or, as that Talking Heads song put it so well in the 80s, “Same as it ever was.” (in other words, the social justice gospel *exclusively* – most of it is always focused on the temporal… *never* on the Eternal)

    [huge sigh]

    The point is we are supposed to be *one* as our Divine Savior prayed to the Father for (see John 17). However, when it comes right down to it we are not. So, missionary/evangelizing/catechizing work comes to a grinding halt in most places and the “same as it ever was” mentality just keeps on keeping on – to the detriment of the culture we live in.

    Missionary work will, not, happen, until we worship our Blessed Lord according to the norms handed down to us by Rome (whether OF or EF of Holy Mass) – and we use authentically orthodox catechetical materials (and good luck with that).

    Please God help us.


  47. Pingback: United States of America: “Mission Territory” | Knights of Divine Mercy

  48. Sissy says:

    St. Rafael at July 17, 1:41 pm: that is a perfect prescription for a fresh start….if those changes alone were instituted next Sunday, I think we’d see rapid change for the better. I constantly fight the urge to flee my crazy parish for one that is more reverent. Maybe we all need to be willing to be salt and light in the apostate parishes.

    acardnal at July 17, 7:18 pm: thank you for linking to Fr. Hardon’s wonderful materials. I’m taking the basic course right now so I can be a certified catechist using his program. When I asked my very modernist RCIA director if I could help her once I’ve been certified, I was gratified that she said “yes” [I’m not sure she knows anything about Fr. Hardon, so that may be why she agreed!] At any rate, I’ll try to do my little part and pray for the Lord to multiple the workers in our mission field.

  49. BobP says:

    When the vernacular is promoted over the Church’s language, what does one expect except each country slowly drifting away from the Church?

  50. NYer says:

    Back in the 60’s, I recall my mother packing up large boxes filled with items to send to the missionaries in India. At that time, our country was flush with priests.

    In 2010, a new pastor was assigned to our Maronite Catholic parish. In his first homily, the young (33 y/o) priest gave us some insight into his monastic (http://www.qozhaya.com/) community, explaining that the US, which sent out missionaries for so many decades, is itself, now mission territory. The statement startled me. On closer reflection of the dramatic changes we have witnessed since the 60’s, it actually made sense. I have since learned that this particular monastery, at the request of the 2 US bishops, has sent monastic priest missionaries, not only to the US but to other parts of the globe, as well. We are most blessed by these young priests who are steeped in spirituality and on fire for love of Christ.

  51. Rushintuit says:

    MEN and WOMEN – Please wear decent clothing when you go to the Adoration Chapel. If you dress like you’re going to the beach, in front of Our Lord exposed in the Blessed Sacrament, what does that say about your faith? What blessings do you think you are calling down on your Parish?

  52. Suburbanbanshee says:

    BobP — Using the vernacular at Mass was a classic mission territory tool. For example, the Glagolitic Mass in Slavonic, Mass in Scottish Gaelic in Victorian times in the Hebrides, Mass in Chinese, etc.

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