Catholic Herald: The Church should make life harder for Catholics

Here is something for us all to think about as we approach the Year of Faith.

From the UK’s best Catholic weekly, The Catholic Herald, comes this good reflection.  It is on their regular site, but can be found in the print and online digital edition.

The Church should make life harder for Catholics

by Michael Jennings

The Church in England is losing the fight against secularism. With the opponents of the Church gaining the upper hand we have to ask if Catholics are well- trained and strong enough to fight back. We are outnumbered and, at best, considered superstitious and irrelevant – at worst, a danger to society. In such circumstances there needs to be a stiffening of commitment if more and more of us are not to fall victim to the beguiling temptations of the secular world, where comfort and having a good time are necessarily important since there is no other life to look forward to. Perhaps we should employ St Paul as our personal trainer and model ourselves on him. He says he is intent on winning: “That is how I fight, not beating the air. I treat my body hard and make it obey me.” His message: toughen up, take up your cross daily and rejoice in sharing Christ’s sufferings.

Now, while Catholics in other parts of the world are suffering and dying for their faith, we in this country are permitted to abandon things that were easy for things easier still. The Eucharistic fast, for example, once began at midnight, then it was reduced to three hours. Now, in a Mass which goes much beyond the usual time, it would be possible to be munching sandwiches during the penitential act and still not break the fast. Fasting itself seems to be regarded as a gruesome medieval practice best replaced by good works, whereas it is a preparation for doing good works better.

More mollycoddling is in evidence with the recent transferring of various feast days to Sunday. This has saved Catholics a trip to church or otherwise having another thing to own up to in Confession – that’s if they happen to be part of the majority who don’t do Holy Days of Obligation. In my experience, within the confessional penances are mild. Without sending off penitents barefoot to Rome perhaps they should be beefed up just to emphasise that sinning is serious. Surely they should, on occasions, elicit a yelp or two.

And does not the Church go easy on our consciences? We live in society where most of us have a standard of living that is using up most of the world’s resources. It would not be possible for all the world’s inhabitants to enjoy the same facilities and luxuries as we do. Most of us own a car. Their production in such vast numbers is one of the most efficient means yet devised to use up irreplaceable resources and, as another built-in feature, create considerable pollution. You would think sin was lurking somewhere in this state of affairs.

We need to be tough enough to be told that we are sinful without being devastated by the news. No doubt there would be those who would storm off in a huff muttering: “This language is intolerable,” as they did when Christ said that eating his flesh and drinking his blood was the only way to obtain eternal life. He did not seek to assuage the hurt feelings of those heading for the exit by going soft on the message.

Yet another ease-making occurrence is the wholesale use of the vernacular in the Mass, [Do I hear an “Amen!”?] even though this was not envisaged by Vatican II. At one level it made understanding easier [But… did it?  We weren’t all those years, getting from the texts what the prayers really said. Were we really understanding?] but did it at the expense of a unifying language, a language that didn’t need updating every 10 years and which was special to the faith. And this matter of understanding can have insidious adverse consequences. The battle against secularism is not going to be won by hurling facts back at Richard Dawkins. Life is a mystery and perhaps we should dwell more on what we don’t know, rather than being proud of the little we do. After all, we can never know how much we don’t know.

Furthermore, English is our weekday language. It’s the one we use for swearing, arguing and lying. It might be a good idea to have Latin as our Sunday best. Then, when we came home after Mass, we might find those work-a-day words washed and ironed, all ready for the next week.

Another change which occurred after Vatican II was the practice of standing to receive Communion. This made things easier at the expense of profound symbolism – kneeling being a sign denoting weakness, submission and obedience. [Not to mention awe at transcendence.] To quote St Paul again: “It is when I am weak then I am strong.” True, we stand as a sign of respect but standing on your own two feet and standing up for oneself are phrases to do with self-sufficiency. Surely when coming face to face with God, as one does at Communion, kneeling is the better response.

The point being made in all of this is that by removing difficulties the will is weakened and therefore the associated virtues, such as perseverance, bravery, restraint, patience and chastity. These virtues are vital armaments in the battle against secularism. Nowhere is strength of will more needed than in the field of sexual morality. It is not more knowledge so as to be in a position to make “informed choices” that will help. To hold fast to the teachings of the Church in this area it is strength of will which is needed. Restraint, patience and, often, bravery are the weapons to use.

If Catholics can’t go without food for a few hours, or go to church during the week once in a while, or get on their knees to receive Communion, then we are edging towards becoming indistinguishable from those who only have this world and each other to rely on. Christian life is not supposed to be a stroll in the park but the carrying of a cross, the climbing of a mountain. To the outsider, a Catholic’s iron commitment to the Mass, the strength to defer pleasure, the ability to suffer cheerfully and the courage to defend Church teaching are things which impress and are important factors in bringing about conversions.

The kind of dedication exhibited by the Olympic athletes certainly draws many others into that orbit and, as St Paul says: “Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one.” In any case, the things being suggested here hardly amount to having to train day after day while the limbs scream for mercy. I_am not even suggesting the total prohibition of all cakes and ale. Still, as St Paul didn’t say (although he obviously knew it all too well), great journeys start with a single step.

Michael Jennings is a former cartographer and teacher, now retired. He is married with two grown-up children. He became a Catholic in 1980 after dithering for 20 years.

And what could those steps be?  Any one of his suggestions would be a good start.

  • Stop Communion in the hand
  • Kneel for Communion
  • Reintroduce ad orientem worship
  • Reintroduce Latin and Gregorian chant and polyphony
  • Reintroduce male only service at the altar
  • Reintroduce the 3 hour Eucharistic fast
  • Fix down the timing of Holy Days of Obligation
  • Stress the need for the Sacrament of Penance
  • Stress the culture of the “Sunday Best” for Sunday Mass attendance
  • Increase Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and other traditional devotions

It may be that this has to start with lay people CLAMORING for them, priests to teach them, and bishops to respond.  The ground up approach could be effective.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. dominic1955 says:

    If one reads practically any solid spiritual treatise, it is absolutely baffling why the Church ever eased up so much on our disciplines so much. Most people do not win any spiritual conflicts by taking it easy. I also, personally, think some of this laxity is a result of frequent-meaning-daily Communion. While probably not a bad idea in the time of Pope St. Pius X, today people treat it as some sort of right, something that is in some minds just part and parcel of going to church on Sunday (i.e. they think like Protestants). I can imagine that some are too timid of the response they might get for sitting out and go up anyway even when they think that they shouldn’t. If we brought back even the three hour fast, made it clear what exactly it means to be properly disposed to receiving and then made the manner in which the Eucharist is received and the context in which it is confected (Mass, obviously) more closely realign with the dignity and reverence that such an August Sacrament deserves, then we would go a long way in ramping up our Catholic identity and more importantly, the holiness of the people.

    Plus, who really wants anything that is easy? When we try to make being a Catholic as easy as being a Mainliner Protestant, is is surprising that people just started sleeping in on Sunday morning? Who wants to be inundated in ugly, vaguely inoffensive Ikea architecture and banal music? None of this brings the Church ‘up to date’, all such attempts are excercises in how to be painfully lame.

  2. Johnno says:

    Great article! It has long been taught that actions and what we do define who we are and what we become. And that disciplines in little actions and things in life help discipline ourselves to fight against temptation.

    The Church leaders, in trying to be ‘nice’ have utterly destroyed the means to achieving the necessary ends. Salvation is a hard thing to attain, and must be striven for in hardship and fear as Paul taught.

    Bringing back the necessary practices will demand more from a generation of Catholics whose only message deserves to be that of Job, which caused the king and entire city of inhabitants to repent, put on sackcloth and ashes and perform penance.

    Bring back the hard stuff and force Catholics to realize the gravity of the situation they are in. That hell exists, and the majority are damned, and they could very well be in that group because very few are actually saved. And those who are damned are damned because that is what they want. But even the few is a great uncountable number.

    If Catholics don’t take their faith seriously. Nobody else will, and so much for the call to convert others, you might as well cast that out along with kneeling for Communion and other disciplines as only ‘optional.’ Far from it, you’ll only attract converts who are looking for an easy non specific religion and who will continue to breed more of that lukewarmness when they come in, leaving the hard converts who could’ve risen in their zeal to become great saints, to instead be taken by the Communists or the Jihadists.

    I once talked to a priest from the States asking what he thought about the lukewarm efforts our Bishops are making when it comes to combating the forces of secular government. His reply was that the Bishops are not taking much action because they know that the Catholics laity are not prepared for persecution, and will never be willing to do the hard stuff. So they are continuing to delay and make nice with the forces of secularism to make as many concessions as they can to protect the flock. And if that means giving in to the HHS mandate and other secular persecutions and infiltrations into our hospitals and schools, so be it. What can they do? So it seems to me that the Bishops are already preparing to lose, and maybe that’s why Cardinal Dolan continues to speak softly and be nice and kiss Obama’s feet when given an opportunity whereby he can distance the Catholic Church from a secular event. He thinks he’s doing the right and only thing he can. But of course I’m trying to make excuses for him.

    We don’t only need to make things harder for the laity. We need to make things harder for our priests and bishops as well. There’s no use in the laity taking on these things is our leaders have also gotten soft and worry more about how they are perceived publicly than doing what is right and necessary.

    So the Church should make life harder for Catholics, yes, but not just the laity, but for its own clergy too who must take pains to deal with their own spiritual problems as well.

  3. silicasandra says:

    I am a relatively new Catholic (5 years), with only the past year actually being serious about my faith. One of the things I remember most about RCIA was the, “But that’s just optional. You don’t have to do it” about a variety of devotions. Doubtless it was true, and the statement was probably intended to put those of us with Protestant and secular backgrounds at ease, but I think it just hindered our understanding of what was really going on in the Faith we were considering embracing. The worst was with Confession – I was baptized when I entered the Church so I did not need Confession before the Easter Vigil, but it took over six months for me to do my first confession and then it was at my prompting – “Hey, um, aren’t I supposed to do that?” My second confession didn’t come until almost three years after that, after a lot (A LOT) of sinning and straying. And even that didn’t immediately put me on the straight and narrow.

    What keeps me going is the constant taking on of responsibility to grow in my faith. Expecting it to be handed to me did absolutely nil, and doing “just the bare minimum” made me question the value of the whole thing. After my son’s baptism I realized just how little I knew about the faith I’d converted to and figured I should read up fast if I was going to teach him anything. It is hard, and I have given up a lot of things – but they are things of this world.

  4. mike cliffson says:

    General Tone……..about time this was mooted. But Bishops to say..? Holy days back ON holydays, that’d be a start

    However, unhappy about :
    “And does not the Church go easy on our consciences? ”
    .. but then follows….
    “We live in society where most of us have a standard of living that is using up most of the world’s resources. It would not be possible for all the world’s inhabitants to enjoy the same facilities and luxuries as we do. Most of us own a car. Their production in such vast numbers is one of the most efficient means yet devised to use up irreplaceable resources and, as another built-in feature, create considerable pollution. You would think sin was lurking somewhere in this state of affairs.”

    Only-so -much -to -go -around ism. wealth -cannot -be -created -not -even -with -god’s -blessing- there’s- no -universe -out -there.
    this is what Moslems and marxist style lefties beleive.
    If this realy is true, then th e secualrist are right in their motives for forcing abortion on kenya, the evil plans for the Philipines etc.

    “Give all you have to the poor and follow me !”

    I don’t think Our Lord said that to” save the planet” etc .

    And is this mindset while there’s NOTHING here about zero, one or two child catholic families, when catholics were shouted at in the farfromeasy Brit 50s ,for large families?

    Article in the C.Herald may be only a straw in the wind, but a good sign.
    But When catholics are again 50% of the British prison population (15% in general, the last in, the first out, at lose jobs for being late to work only holydays of obligation etc……well….

  5. mamajen says:

    I wholeheartedly agree. All the rules and requirements give us something special to be a part of, and I think the younger generations would embrace this more than people think.

  6. wmeyer says:

    As a deacon I know observed, many of the younger people who have left the Church are now attending Protestant churches, and they do so for the stronger message and deeper sense of obedience to scripture that is required. We are children of God, and children need rules.

  7. tioedong says:

    “moving” holy days to Sunday? I think you need to live in a Catholic country like the Philippines to realize that “holy days” are days when you take off of work and fiesta! Indeed, one of the complaints in the Middle Ages was that the church had 50 holy days (plus 50 Sundays) when they couldn’t force the peasants to work.
    In secular countries, going to mass is one more burden for we overworked moms.
    As for “Rules”: Jesus wasn’t big on these things.
    The reason that kids are going to Protestant churches (and in the Philippines educated people are going to Protestant churches) is not just because of “rules” but that they preach the importance of Jesus, a morality that the Catholics forget,they preach about things we have to cope with in our daily life, and of course, often these churches are Pentecostal and allow us to find joy in our relationship with the Lord.
    A mass that is about worshipping God instead of dancing with the stars” is a good start, but the real need is learning about Jesus and what this relationship means to our life.

  8. Amandil says:

    One of my favourite sources of “strength of will” is – I guess this is typical for me – The Lord of the Rings, particularly in the part right before the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. I always like how Theoden stands across from an enormous army of Mordor but charges on anyway. We can draw much inspiration to reject and fight evil from there.

    “Fey he seemed, or the battle-fury of his fathers ran like new fire in his veins, and he was borne up on Snowmane like a god of old, even as Oromë the Great in the battle of the Valar when the world was young.” Hopefully we can get to the point where rejecting evil and living in good excites in us that battle-fury with which we can “overcome evil by good”. Our unbreakable commitment to God can be a powerful form of evangelisation; it’s also good for our eternal destinies. Why be weak, when we could, with God’s grace, be strong?

  9. Jack Hughes says:

    a) on the Eucharistic Fast, if I were to go the to Feast of the Assumption after tommrow ( I went to the vigil this evening becasue due to work commitments I can’t go tommorow, would you really make me go between 17 and 18 hours without food just so I could up to Jesus? On a Sunday morning FINE, you’ve spent the best part of the time since midnight asleep but for those of us who aren’t stay at home moms who homeschool it would be incrediblly dumb to go 18+ hours without a few calories in our system, 3 hours seems a reasonable time to me, heck even the SSPX are pragmatic in this regard.

    b) Whilst the vigil Mass on Saturday should be abandoned the idea of evening Masses on Holy Days of Obligation isn’t a bad one (reasons same as above)

    C) I get really frustrated when Catholics who were brought up with Traditional practises feel the need to demonstrate their supposed superiority over those who wernt when they start to attend the Old Rite, if anything these people need more TLC than ever; from my experience of Trad Catholics (this includes the Priests and Religious) they would not have helped the man on the Road to Jericho if he had asked them for help, but would have told him in a self righteous manner to ‘offer it up’ and would have given him 10 lashes just to make sure that he learnt his lession. The most Traditional Priests I have met are those who have lots of compassion, are willing to help people to become better Cathotlics little by little until they are ready to stand on their own two feet, these men are TRUE Fathers and Alter Christus.

    I contrast most trads (and again I include Priests and religious) I have had the misfortune to meet bear more resemblence to the herisarch Calvin and his bastard offspring than True Catholics, someone mentioned Theoden who stood ready to forgive Grima and prior to charging at the hosts of Morder had a lifetime of training and campaign experience.

  10. 1catholicsalmon says:

    ”Life is a mystery and perhaps we should dwell more on what we don’t know, rather than being proud of the little we do. After all, we can never know how much we don’t know”. This is a key quote for me.
    Let’s endeavour to know our Lord through the depth and breadth of what our Faith has observed for 2 millennia—stop criticising the Church; stay close to and heed what the Holy Father preaches and teaches; become an ACTIVE member of the Church; LIVE the FAITH!!!

    This managed to make my hackles rise:-”The Church in England is losing the fight against secularism”… I do believe that there are too few Catholics that are aware of the importance of their witness here in England at the present time in history. I don’t believe that the Church is losing the battle against secularism, but it is fighting for it’s life and the New Evangilisation cannot come too soon.
    Our Lady of Walsingham,
    Pray for us!!

  11. Springkeeper says:

    AMEN! Get rid of the protestant, and especially pentecostal, fuzzy-wuzzies and get back to reclaiming our birthright as the one and only Church that Christ left behind. We have history and the Bible on our side and we will persevere to the end by the grace of God. “Dearly beloved, taking all care to write unto you concerning your common salvation, I was under a necessity to write unto you: to beseech you to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints.” (Jude 1:3)
    We have the very Truth of God and He will prevail and so will His Church!

  12. The Masked Chicken says:

    dominic1955 wrote:

    “I also, personally, think some of this laxity is a result of frequent-meaning-daily Communion.”

    Pope Pius X got the idea for frequent communion, supposedly, from reading The Story of a Soul. St. Therese, who advocated frequent communion, certainly knew a thing or two about self-discipline.

    As dominic points out, the problem is that it is often overlooked that Pope Pius X, at the same time he advocated for more frequent communion, also advocated for more frequent confession so that one could receive communion worthily. Any modern problem with frequent communion is really a problem of infrequent confession. One reason for infrequent confession is a result of a confused understanding of sin among many Church-goers.

  13. Very good reflection…

    The church of good intentions (TM) has been tried, and has been an absolute failure….a few thoughts…

    a. On standing for Communion, I agree we need to return to kneeling and directly on the tongue. Really standing makes absolutely no sense in the Roman tradition as it has developed. In the Eastern Churches it does make sense….Just because something works well in one side, doesn’t mean it will work in another…

    b. Our Liturgy, we need to stop singing hymns that do not teach the Catholic Faith….(aka Haugen-Haas Ice Cream). Replacing God’s Word with our own has created an anthrocentric worship which is not condusive to transforming the world.

  14. The Sicilian Woman says:

    Speaking of laxity and warm squishy fuzzies, what about going back to addressing priests as, “Fr. [Last Name]” instead of “Fr. [First Name]”? Growing up, I was taught to address adults by their last names to infer authority/respect. It’s still done, but it’s not the norm anymore. Perhaps doing will be a small step towards re-establishing priestly authority rather than subconsciously encouraging Catholics to regards priests as the guys whose only job it is to accommodate your Your Dream Wedding(TM). Just a thought.

  15. digdigby says:

    No meat on every Friday….. during Lent? What more do they want from us! We are only human!

  16. DetJohn says:

    When it was harder to be Catholic it was better to be Catholic.

    In my opinion the results of Vatican II destroyed Catholic Life. We lost our idenitfication, we were just another Christian. We were dumbed down.

    Let’s make everything old new again.

  17. wmeyer says:

    DetJohn, I would agree, to an extent, but put it thus: The things done in the name of Vatican II destroyed Catholic Life. These were not, per se, the fruits of the Council, since many of the conditions laid down in the documents have been violated.

  18. FrG says:

    How about restoring meatless Fridays? An obvious way to enhance Catholic identity as a people set apart.

  19. Ok, I love y’all, but the various posts call for various responses…

    To Dominic:

    There is an axiom that goes like this: “Never attribute to malice what can just as easily be explained by incompetence.” To that, I would offer a corollary: …what can be explained by good intentions. My point being, that at the time of theCouncil, the Church was astride the world like the Colossus, and she (imagined she) could afford to be generous. Let there be experimentation! Try things–it’ll be OK. My point being–if it’s not plain–that folks with no bad will thought it would be all right. The Church would endure. There’s no reason to advert to dark conspiracies to explain the motives of all (as opposed to some).

    To Springkeper:

    A lot of the history of the Church can be explained this way: we reacted to the last heresy. (Akin to saying, generals fight the last war.) The old ways — even if they prove, in the last analysis, to have been better, had their problems too.

    To Johnno:

    You say few will be saved and the majority will be damned. That’s more than I know– and more than Holy Mother Church knows. Private revelation is fascinating, but it is private.

  20. fvhale says:

    @FrG: The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales are already one step ahead of you. From May 2011:

    A key resolution of the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, released after their May 2011 plenary meeting, was “to re-establish the practice of Friday penance in the lives of the faithful as a clear and distinctive mark of their own Catholic identity.”

    This act of common witness will come into effect from Friday 16 September 2011 – the day the Church in England and Wales marks the anniversary of the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United Kingdom.

    Full Resolution

    By the practice of penance every Catholic identifies with Christ in his death on the cross. We do so in prayer, through uniting the sufferings and sacrifices in our lives with those of Christ’s passion; in fasting, by dying to self in order to be close to Christ; in almsgiving, by demonstrating our solidarity with the sufferings of Christ in those in need. All three forms of penance form a vital part of Christian living. When this is visible in the public arena, then it is also an important act of witness.

    Every Friday is set aside by the Church as a special day of penance, for it is the day of the death of our Lord. The law of the Church requires Catholics to abstain from meat on Fridays, or some other form of food, or to observe some other form of penance laid down by the Bishops’ Conference.

    The Bishops wish to re-establish the practice of Friday penance in the lives of the faithful as a clear and distinctive mark of their own Catholic identity. They recognise that the best habits are those which are acquired as part of a common resolve and common witness. It is important that all the faithful be united in a common celebration of Friday penance.

    Respectful of this, and in accordance with the mind of the whole Church, the Bishops’ Conference wishes to remind all Catholics in England and Wales of the obligation of Friday Penance. The Bishops have decided to re-establish the practice that this should be fulfilled by abstaining from meat. Those who cannot or choose not to eat meat as part of their normal diet should abstain from some other food of which they regularly partake. This is to come into effect from Friday 16 September 2011 when we will mark the anniversary of the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United Kingdom.

    Many may wish to go beyond this simple act of common witness and mark each Friday with a time of prayer and further self-sacrifice. In all these ways we unite our sacrifices to the sacrifice of Christ, who gave up his very life for our salvation.


  21. Springkeeper says:

    Fr. Fox: I speak not as someone who thinks every old way is perfect but as a former twenty plus year baptist who sees far more truth in the Catholic Church than I have ever seen anywhere else. I do not think all vernacular Masses should go out the window but there needs to be a re-emergence of a Catholic identity and that will come with embracing what was good, useful and holy in the past and adding whatever in the present that brings us closer to the Lord and His Love and Holiness. Bible studies and apologetic and/or expository homilies are also wonderful things.

  22. By the way, I didn’t say where I stood on the end result of the article, as mediated through our genial host: I agree with everything recommended. And I very much agree that not only should clerics agitate for these things, the laity must do so. Fair or not–oh, let us not mess around and stipulate it isn’t fair–but in the current setup, change will not likely come unless the laity really go to town for it.

    This means not merely certain, convinced individuals writing tough letters, and making sharp posts online, or anonymously withholding contributions (how folks who do this–without simultaneously explaining the reason they withheld funds–think this will be interpreted correctly is beyond me) and so forth. It means that the laity will have to help win their fellow laity. Oh, if you have a priest who is fired up for these things, that helps a lot; but they are always going to be rare, until the cause is won; having bishops who are fired up will be even rarer. And while I don’t blame folks for retreating to comfortable environs–to parishes or SSPX chapels where things aren’t so bad or are even reasonably good–this will not win the battle. Some of the more liberal bishops were all to happy to have grumpy, retrograde folks do precisely that–all congregate at a handful of parishes and shut the **** up. Or to use a historical analogy: when Roman civilization was fairly far along to collapse, there were pockets of Roman civilization that went right along, yes even after the barbarians came in. The barbarians were more than willing to leave the enclaves alone for quite awhile–and the old Romans, who had gradually retreated into their enclaves, were equally happy to have their civilization, in their own little enclosure.

  23. Michelle F says:

    Islam is one of the world’s fastest growing religions, and I’ve been thinking for a few years now that the reason it is growing is because it sets the standard for the expected behavior of adherents VERY high.

    Some examples off the top of my head:

    >> They fast for 30 days, sunup to sundown; we fast for 60 minutes once a week (Sunday Mass).
    >> They pray with everyone facing Mecca; we gave up ad orientem worship.
    >> They pray 5 times a day; most of us don’t even bother with the noon Angelus.
    >> They make a pilgrimage to Mecca (the Hajj); we can’t get people to show up in the parish church for Stations of the Cross during Lent.

    The only attraction I can see for Islam, for both men and women, is the high standard of behavior to which they are expected to adhere. Every human being needs to feel like he is serving something greater than himself. Even Atheists think they are serving something greater than themselves – mankind.

    The Catholic Church, however, keeps setting the bar lower and lower. Fasting is out, meatless Fridays are out (in the USA), praying/worshiping facing God is out, setting aside a few minutes every day to pray is out (e.g., the Angelus) … everything that tells us that we are engaged in something bigger than ourselves, that we are expected to better ourselves, to give up our selfishness and live up to God’s standards is out. The Church’s message is now no different from the world’s: Do what you think is right, and everything will be fine; Daddy/Parent in the sky loves you no matter what; you’ll get to go to Heaven because you’re a nice person, and you meant well.

    Yes, the Church does need to make life “harder” for us by putting the bar back up where it was 40+ years ago. If we don’t take our religion seriously, no one else will either.

  24. One more thought…quite a lot of the progress we’ve made, in recent years, in turning back the insanity that reigned in the 70s and 80s, is due to the implacable fidelity and common sense of the lay faithful. Quite a lot of clerics either got caught up in the nonsense, or else were insulated from the full damage it was doing. They needed the laity to say, to **** with this, good and hard.

  25. Michelle F says:

    Fr. Fox,
    I would like to defend Johnno’s assertion that most people are damned by pointing to Our Lord’s statement in Matthew 7:13-14:

    13) Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat.
    14) How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it!

    One could take the Lord’s statement to mean that the majority of people will be damned.

  26. Kent says:

    Amen. Great article. Any one of those suggestions would be a good start. All of them would be a great start. I’m still mad at the bishops for removing the Holy Day requirement from the Feast of the Immaculate Conception last year. Our country is coming apart at the seams and they decide we don’t have to go to Mass to honor the Mother of Our Lord and patroness of the Americas. Shame, shame.

  27. capchoirgirl says:

    A note for Sicilian Woman: I attend a Dominican-run parish. The priests there WANT to be called by their first names, because those are the names they choose in then novitiate before their vestiation with the habit. The names have particular meaning to them, and thus, they want them to be used. For diocesan priests that are not part of an order, I agree, I prefer to call them “Fr. Brown” or what have you.
    As for how many people will be damned/saved: How about we let Jesus worry about that? Yes, we should work to evangelize and catechize (is that a word?) those around us. But one of the BIGGEST turnoffs for me with Protestants is that, once they hear I’m Catholic, I’m immediately condemned to Hell–and told so. Let’s be charitable here, guys. I’m with Fr. Fox, here.
    As for making things tougher: I agree, esp. on things like more public adoration, and keeping Holy Days on the Holy Day! Ascension THURSDAY, people! And yes, I’d like to see meatless Fridays all throughout the year.
    As for some of the rest of the comments, I don’t take such a gloomy view. No one says that the Angelus MUST be said. You don’t HAVE to pray the rosary daily. Yes, prayer is essential, but does it really matter how one does it, as long as it is in keeping with Catholic teaching? I think condemning people for not saying the Angelus at six, noon, and six is harsh.

  28. Michelle:

    One could take it that way; but one is not compelled to do so. One might readily understand these words of our Lord–and many others–not as prediction, but as warning. If you read further in the same passage, for example, you will see where our Lord speaks of great multitudes coming into the kingdom; and if you recall, all this was in reply to question, is it few who are saved. I would argue that our Lord–as he often does–did not answer the question asked, but the question that ought to have been asked, which was, not how many, but how to be saved.

    I point out that unlike Johnno, I. Do. NOT. Know. How many will be saved. I strive to enter by the narrow gate. Quite right: few find it…on their own; but then Saint Paul reminds us, we are saved by grace, are we not? Trent teaches–based on Scripture–that no one can be saved unless God helps them. But with God’s help, who can say?

    Johnno asserts, with seeming knowledge, that he knows. I do not know. And I say again, neither does the Church.

  29. Springkeeper:

    I agree.

  30. Michelle F says:

    Fr. Fox,

    I meant no offense, nor was I claiming to know more about the correct interpretation of Scripture than an ordained priest. I simply wanted to point out that Johnno’s idea didn’t necessarily come from private revelation; it could be Biblically based.

    I also don’t know the number of people who will be saved in the end, nor the relative proportion of people who will be saved. If I understand the Church’s teaching correctly, she prefers to rely on the Lord’s generosity, pointing out that it is His will that everyone be saved and He will go to great lengths to save everyone that can be saved.

    I think many of us will be very surprised to see who made it to Heaven.

    I am sorry if I offended you. I really did not mean to do so.

  31. Michelle:

    I’m not offended, I’m sorry if I gave that impression; I was simply making my case. And my argument isn’t with you, necessarily, but only with those who–perhaps including Johnno, from his comments–claim with certitude that few will be saved, and many damned. As I said initially, this is more than the Church knows.

    And I don’t mind at all talking about the correct interpretation of Scripture. I don’t know that, either.

  32. Johnno says:

    Fr Martin Fox:

    The fact that the majority are damned and few will be saved, is not just seen from private revelations of saints, and there were many of them, but are Church Teaching and the constant concern of the Church Fathers and inferred blatantly from Scripture itself in various types. From the historical account of Noah’s Ark, where the world perishes save a few people and animals, from Abraham pleading with God to spare Sodom and Gamorrah is there are but 10 holy men, from the few remaining original Hebrews that made it to the Promised land from Egypt, from our Savior’s own parables where only a few walk the straight and narrow path whereas the majority take the wide path to hell. I recommend reading the sermon ‘The Little Number of those who are saved’ by St. Leonard of Port Maurice who delivers this hard and frightening teaching unapologetically. It’s high time many started to take note of how severe it is to take their faith seriously. The sad fact is that the majority are damned precisely because the majority don’t care, and in fact choose not to.

  33. Johnno:

    Can you cite a passage from either the Catechism of the Catholic Church, or the Trent Catechism, or the Baltimore Catechism, or the U.S. Catechism, to support your assertion? Taking nothing away from Saint Leonard of Port Maurice, but any number of his sermons do not constitute Magisterial teaching.

  34. Former Altar Boy says:

    I also urge the return to “meatless Fridays.” While all of Father Z’s suggestions are excellent (and needed), having grown up before Vat2 (ugh), the fact that Catholics abstained from meat every Friday was one of the biggest “Catholic identity” practices witnessed by non-Catholics and the un-churched. Many was the Friday night after a dance or sporting event that the Catholic kids could be identified by ordering a Fish Filet at McDonalds while the heathens enjoyed their burgers.

  35. JesusFreak84 says:

    I’d put women veiling under the “Sunday best” heading. (And yes, I’m a woman.) Just doing that might start to drop the hint re: only men serving at the altar and etc. And fact of the matter is that it’d probably get a lot of women who are of the same mindset as the LCWR to finally up and leave. The Holy Father’s spoken before about a Church that is “smaller but stronger,” and I think a lot of the suggestions in this article WOULD cause people to leave for whatever of the world’s thousand of Protestant denomoniations {sp?} tells them what they want to hear, if they even remain Christian, BUT I also believe that the Church would be much stronger for it. The Bride of Christ would finally shed the parasites that have been sucking blood from Her for the past half-century. Those who would leave already left in their hearts ages ago.

  36. I agree with this article EXCEPT THAT, like Mike Cliffson, I do not buy the part about cars and the zero-sum theory of wealth creation. These are socialist notions. It is not the creation of wealth in a free-market economy that lays waste to the planet. Man-made disasters — including environmental disasters — are more often the product of collectivist regimes (cf. the Aral Sea, the Great Sparrow Campaign, Semipalatinsk, Chernobyl, etc.). And cars are hated by socialist types because they are a key to personal freedom: the freedom to transport yourself from place to place on your own schedule is a really huge deal, as anybody can tell you who does not have that freedom. “Mass transit” is more about controlling people’s lives than providing convenience or cleaning up the planet; also, mass transit systems are money pits.

    Other than that, the article is right on and full of things I have been saying for years.

  37. Pingback: Europe Hope Child Abandonment Virgil St. Benedict | Big Pulpit

  38. Cathy says:

    To be honest, one of the greatest ruptures seemed to be going to Mass and receiving the Eucharist, not at the hands of the priest, but, in my case, the first time it happend, from a female classmate in high school. There is something so intimate about feeding another human being which signifies the relationship between the one feeding and the one receiving. At the level of human relationship, such activity belongs to the realm of a parent and a small child, a care-giver and a sick person, and a lover to the beloved. It just seems to make more sense to receive Jesus at the hands of a man who is actually ordained to be In Persona Christi, and not my next-door neighbor.

  39. Will D. says:

    I really like the idea of returning Holy Days of Obligation to their correct dates, rather than smooshing them over into the next Sunday or ignoring them altogether. It is useful to remember that our faith should extend beyond just an hour each Sunday.

    The sacrament of Penance is, of course, another problem. I’m lucky enough to have heard homilies about it at my parish many times over the last couple of years, but still my pastor is only in the box for an hour each Saturday before the 5PM Mass. Rev’d Fathers, please spend more time in the confessionals! Minimizing the opportunities to celebrate the Sacrament makes it appear that it is unimportant and unnecessary. If you’re there, the people will begin to realize it is important that they be there, too.

  40. Cathy says: To be honest, one of the greatest ruptures seemed to be going to Mass and receiving the Eucharist, not at the hands of the priest, but, in my case, the first time it happend, from a female classmate in high school. There is something so intimate about feeding another human being which signifies the relationship between the one feeding and the one receiving. At the level of human relationship, such activity belongs to the realm of a parent and a small child, a care-giver and a sick person, and a lover to the beloved. It just seems to make more sense to receive Jesus at the hands of a man who is actually ordained to be In Persona Christi, and not my next-door neighbor.

    In Part 4, Chapter 2 of his Dialogue Concerning Heresies, St. Thomas More lays out a list of Martin Luther’s teachings that go against the teachings of the Catholic Church. Included in that list is the following:

    Item: He teaches that every man and woman should take the Holy Sacrament, and not refrain from touching It and handling It as much as they please.

    Communion on the hand, and the use of EMHCs, are things the origins of which we really ought to consider more carefully than we have done up to now.

  41. Ambrose Jnr says:

    @Johno: I’m wondering whether the narrow gate refers to people who go to heaven without needing purgatory…they would be few…this way, we’re biblical without guessing about numbers going through purgatory vs to hell. Would that make sense?

  42. Texas trad says:

    The SSPX is the only place where I have found the practice of the 10 steps listed at the end of this article.

  43. bookworm says:

    “Mass transit” is more about controlling people’s lives than providing convenience or cleaning up the planet; also, mass transit systems are money pits.”

    Or maybe it’s more about providing a way for people who are too poor to afford cars, or who don’t have a place to store a car, or who cannot drive (due to physical/mental disability), a way to get around? I just had to make a work-related trip to Chicago. I took Amtrak and Metra trains inbound, and rode back with some co-workers outbound. The first trip was enjoyable and stress free; the latter trip was a grueling nightmare of crawling through traffic jams. Yes, I have a car, but there are times when I’d rather not have to use it, so don’t knock public transit in my prescence!

    But I digress.

    I think the premise of this article needs to be tweaked a bit. The reason organizations like, say, the U.S. Marines that “make life harder” for their members attract people is not ONLY because they have high standards, but because they care for their members and form a tight bond among them — an esprit de corps. People who belong to these groups know that they can trust one another, that they will protect one another, and they won’t be abandoned in time of need. They respect their leaders because their leaders also go the extra mile for them.

    To simply “make life harder” for Catholics by piling more duties and obligations on them without at the same time restoring a truly Catholic COMMUNITY that will support and help people meet these obligations, I think, won’t work. The point should be not just to do these things for their own sake, or to show how holy or how “tough” or how much better than everyone else we are, but as a way of reinforcing a community and cultural identity. Otherwise you will simply be making the same mistake as the Pharisees of whom Christ said (paraphrasing here) “You lay heavy burdens on people and don’t lift a finger to help carry them.”

  44. wmeyer says:

    I do wish that people who speak fondly of “mass transit” would do some research before waxing eloquent on the subject. One good resource is the website Public Purpose, which offers some excellent studies and offers this nugget:

    “US Dept. of Transportation data indicates that the costs per new rider of all but one of the more than 25 proposed new US light rail and metro systems exceeds the cost of leasing a car in perpetuity. In some cases a luxury car (such as a BMW 740i or Jaguar XJ8) could be leased for less. In virtually all cases, an economy car could be leased. ”

    This is written by someone with a professional competence in economics and transit systems.

    If it does not give you pause, then you have not engaged your brain.

  45. wmeyer says:

    To Michael Jennings’ 10 steps, I would add:
    Stop the use of EMHCs immediately.
    Remove Haugen, Haas, Farrell, Schutte and their ilk from the hymnals.

  46. Scott W. says:

    It’s quite simple really. Either the Church seperates the wheat from the dead wood, or secular society will do it for us.

  47. robtbrown says:

    A few comments:

    1. If memory serves, before Pius X (he of frequent Communion) was pope, he would go to Confession in Latin in various parishes in his diocese to priests’ proficiency in Latin.

    2. It is often said that the Liturgy of the Hours exist to sanctify the day, with recitation every few hours. Thus we can say that Days of Holy Obligation during the week sanctify the week, preventing secularism from ruling from Monday through Saturday. To move these Days to Sunday, IMHO, contradicts the Vat II idea to take the Church into the world.

    3. From a natural standpoint penance exists to subdue the passions, bringing them under the control of the rational power. It’s not, however, just a matter of beating up the passions but rather letting the Church “get into your head”–vacare Deo. Angelo Dundee used to tell his fighters never to shake hands because of the possibility of injury. In fact, he said it was really to remind them that even outside the gym they were fighters, letting boxing “get into their heads”.

  48. Sissy says:

    wmeyer: I agree that the EMHCs should not be used. It’s been my feeling (hope) that if the other practices were put into effect (a return to altar rails, offering the chalice only on a limited basis, male altar servers), that the EMHCs would fall by the wayside as a consequence. I make of point of letting the church secretary know that the bulletin contains a “misprint” or “typo”: Extraordinary ministers has been misspelled as “Eucharistic” ministers. I get some funny looks!

  49. Ana says:

    While I sincerely agree that we have to strengthen the faith of the faithful, I also believe we have to be careful about desires to separate the weeds from the wheat. We don’t need to discourage regular reception of Holy Communion, we need to encourage regular Confession (if the priests are there and the people know, they come). There are other examples I could list here, encouraging improvements in the spiritual life and bringing the parish together as a spiritual family is going to do much more for the Church and the people than just making it harder for people.

    In these instances, the Gospel of Matthew comes to mind where, through parable, we are told:
    “While everyone was asleep, his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruits, the weeds appeared as well. The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’ He answered ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them?’ He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.”‘”

  50. Supertradmum says:

    I grew up with the stricter rules and nobody died of fasting and even the poorest wore Sunday best. I wear basically the same really nice outfit every Sunday. Who cares as long as it is Sunday best. I agree with the article, but I can list many priests who disagree with this. Sometimes, sadly, it is a numbers game. Also, we are still, in England, experiencing the huge rebellion against Humanae Vitae.

    Great Britain is losing the battle for the lack of leadership.

  51. lelnet says:

    “Any one of his suggestions would be a good start.”

    No. Although any of the suggestions you paraphrased would be a good start. I, for one, would be heartily in favor of any of those, or any combination of them, potentially to include all of them.

    The one about reclassifying car ownership as a mortal sin? Not so much.

    I’d add a suggestion, though: adopt a single practical interpretation of the canonical meaning of “Extraordinary”. At least on a per-diocese basis. The use of “Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion” should be no more common than use of the “Extraordinary Form” of the liturgy. It’s a compromise, but it’s one that I could live with. :)

  52. JonPatrick says:

    Just a word on the mass transit side debate – just imagine how a city such as New York or London would exist without a bus and subway system – they could not function. yes there have been projects built in smaller cities that may not be justifiable but then there have been a number of interstate highways in the same category.

    Back to the real subject – I feel that we do need to return to the traditional Catholic practices but we also need to keep in mind that life has changed and those of us that are not Religious need to live in a highly secularized society. For example, someone suggested we should do away with the Saturday vigil Mass. A lot of people today are expected to work on Sundays, for example my wife works for a hospital and has to work every 3rd Sunday 7 – 4. Today I had an 11:30 meeting that ran over – normally I do the Angelus at 12 but could not leave the meeting to do so. There are many such examples. So we may have to have some modifications to these traditions. For example I do my Angelus at 12:30 if I can’t do it at 12. This is no longer a world that is going to make accommodations as they might have at one time when Catholics had more clout.

  53. irishgirl says:

    Great article from the Catholic Herald!
    This writer has got it right! Way to go!

  54. dominic1955 says:

    On the fewness of those who will be saved is a common theme amongst the Fathers and Doctors. Is it a defined doctrine? No. Is it the common opinion of every heavy hitter like Sts. John Chrysostom, Augustine, Gregory the Great, Thomas Aquinas and Alphonsus Liguori? Absolutely. I think that should count pretty highly and should cause everyone to ponder deeply on the Four Last Things. The point is, though, that salvation isn’t something that just gets waltzed into. Work like it all depends on us, pray like it all depends on God.

    As to frequent Communion, I don’t think its a bad thing at all. What I’m saying is that the people have heard that part loud and clear since Sacra Tridentina Synodus but not so much with the rest of it. So, now days you have frequent Communion (pretty much every time most people go to Mass) but how many of these people are properly disposed? I certainly hope so but I know from practical experience that this isn’t often the case. I am not judging souls, but rather that people often do not go to Confession very often if at all, do not have any idea that some of the stuff they do is gravely sinful, do not even bother with the pitiful fast we have etc. etc. They may very well be invincibly ignorant of these things (I doubt it though) but invincible ignorance isn’t making for being properly disposed for fruitful and efficacious reception of the Eucharist!

    As to making a family out of a parish, well, I think also people have gotten the wrong idea about community and parish family from the sectarians. We should have a more universal notion of the Church family and a proper sense of the parish family so as not to become too provincial. However, part of that universalizing aspect (at least Latin Rite) was those hallmark things we used to do. It gave us a certain “ghetto mentality” or “fortress mentality” as the progressives dismissively refer to it as, but we have to have our own house in order before we can possibly offer effective witness and real evangelization. We can all see what happens when we tore down the fortress walls, we weren’t more effective-we basically lost all effectiveness because we lost distinctiveness. Progressives think they are doing something when they go play fake liturgy with sectarians or play kissy-face with them on some sort of social issue but we all know this does nothing to build up the One True Church of Christ.

  55. Johnno says:

    Fr. Martin Fox:

    One would think Christ’s own words in Scripture would be sufficient. It is plainly said in Sacred Scripture Fr. Fox and therefore is Magisterial Teaching. But if you insist, then the Catechism does teach the same thing. Turn to the section on Hell, and in it you’ll find, to no one’s surprise, that it states the same thing by simply quoting the same words of Christ from the Gospel regarding the fact that many take the wide path to hell, whereas only a few even manage to find the narrow way to Heaven. So Christ Himself spelt it out in answer to the question as to whether only a few are saved. He didn’t mix words nor soften the answer, but rather stated it in such a way as to still encourage the listener. The point being that the majority are damned and a minority are saved. Christ is indeed giving a warning, but He does so without lying or distorting the facts which He would never do. Now if you’re asking me for the exact mathematical ratio, then no I can’t give that to you and neither will the Church. It is not necessary that we know the exact number, but merely that we grasp the gravity of the situation and do as the Apostles warned to secure our salvation in all haste and fear.

    It is all rather common sense, those who don’t believe in hell or don’t take it seriously, or spend their lives delaying facing the possibility of their eternal destiny and avoiding that reality, will never be capable to doing the hard things (or rather amazingly simple things) required to ensure their salvation. They spend most of their lives without worrying about it. Like a man who puts off getting insurance until one day he finds he desperately needs it. This is why Christ said what He did, and why the Church Fathers and Theologians and saints reach a consensus on the conclusion that the majority are damned, and that they are damned because they wanted to be and never cared. The Church didn’t develop a caricatured reputation in the past for preaching hellfire and brimstone for no reason. They did it because it was essential for people to get it into their heads the gravity of the situation they face. It’s why Saints willingly took on enduring terrible suffrage on behalf of saving souls who were destined for hell. It’s why God became man and was tortured and died brutally and painfully for us. It’s not some joke or doctrine we can tip toe our lives around without ever worrying about. This is why Christ warns that when He returns, shall He find faith on Earth?

    Yes, God is merciful and there are many means by which the Church provides such that we can ensure our Salvation. But honestly, how many people do you know even care? How many people take Communion without making good confessions? Bad confessions are one of the chief reasons people go to hell. I recommend reading what St. Leonard said, as he quotes Jerome and others who all reached the same conclusions based on the obvious. And where the Church is found to speak in unity throughout the ages consistently, then it is not something that should be ignored and brushed aside.

    Ambrose Jnr:

    The Souls in Purgatory are saved and do not count amongst the majority of the damned. They count amongst the saved. So yes, not only do the vast majority of souls go to hell according to the learned writings and private revelations of the saints and Church Fathers, but very few make it to Purgatory and fewer still go directly to Heaven. Private Revelations regarding such matters aren’t ‘official’ teachings, the official teaching comes directly from Christ in the Gospel and quoted in the Catechism. But overwhelmingly, perhaps 100% of private revelations regarding hell and purgatory all deliver the same dire warning which we may ignore but to our own peril, that an overwhelming majority of human beings go to hell. And they go there of their own accord.

    Don Bosco describes it as a hill, where there are young boys trying to climb up, but it is difficult and filled with traps the enemy has laid, but very few make it up, and a great number of them are in fact running downhill, and accelerating as they go. Another Saint and Visionary whose name I’ve forgotten described it as seeing tens of thousands of people going to their designations. Of the great number, only 1 went to Heaven. Two went to Purgatory, and the remainder all went straight down into the abyss.

    The conclusions of those Holy men and women in the Church reaches a consensus that:
    Of the total number of human beings who ever existed, the majority are damned.
    Of the total number of Christians who are and were, the majority are damned.
    Of the total number of Catholics, the majority are damned.
    Of the total number of priests and religious, the majority are damned.
    Of the total number who are saved, the majority first pass through Purgatory.
    Those who are damned are damned because they wanted to be, regardless of their religious affiliation because they never sought to pursue the works of charity and holiness even to the best of their understanding.
    Those Catholics are damned because they never took pains to make recourse to the vast treasury of the Church, and never even bothered to throw themselves at God’s vast mercy despite their failures, where such a simple sincere action would’ve been enough to save them! There are so many devotions, indulgences, pious things that Catholics can do, especially making good confessions and receiving the Eucharist worthily, and yet the majority of them don’t care and don’t bother because they don’t realize the hell there is that awaits them, and go about their lives as if the danger doesn’t exist, like a man crossing a busy highway without taking note of the vehicles around him.

    It is scary yes, but we are without excuse. The sooner we come to grips with it, the sooner we start to begin to take measures to prevent that from happening, and joining the few who are saved, which is still a vast and uncountable number. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of all knowledge, and fear of Hell is the beginning of the direction towards the narrow gate. Also it is worth noting that God’s Mercy is infinitely unmeasurable, no matter how bad you are He will save you even to the end. But be prudent, and seek to find Him now! For tomorrow may never come…

  56. servusfidelis says:

    Amen to all of it. It looks to me like we have a Pope that may agree to most of it as well. Perhaps if we would support his lead and clamor from the bottom as you say it might help the situation. The following link concerns our Pope’s preference for communion on the tongue and while kneeling taken from the Vatican website:

  57. bookworm says:

    “To the outsider, a Catholic’s iron commitment to the Mass, the strength to defer pleasure, the ability to suffer cheerfully and the courage to defend Church teaching are things which impress and are important factors in bringing about conversions.”

    Unfortunately, my “iron commitment to the Mass, strength to defer pleasure” and “courage to defend Church teaching” seems to be having exactly the opposite effect on a person who means a lot to me. All it does is confirm his/her conviction that I am nothing more than a silly fanatic and a hypocrite. This person’s resistance makes me angry and resentful toward them, which in turn impedes my ability to impress them, and triggers a vicious cycle which I can’t seem to find my way out of. So I guess the “ability to suffer cheerfully”, particularly when it comes to this person, needs some work.

    If I truly believed as some on this blog do that the majority of people are damned, I would have to believe this person is also, and if I did I would literally go mad with despair over my inability to convert this person. So forgive me if I seem a bit skeptical about the idea that “the Church should make life harder for Catholics.” Because it’s already made my life hard enough as it is. I’m sure there are others out there in the same boat, who get NO support from their family or friends or neighbors in this regard.

  58. Johnno says:


    Converting others is hard. In fact it’s so hard that it is said should you successfully save only 1 person from going to hell your salvation is secured! I can’t recall who said that, but the enormity of the task is not easy which is why such a reward is so great to anyone who can accomplish this! And by conversion we mean an actual real conversion that saves them from hell in the end. Not a temporary one. Or a conversion taken at face value. One could convert thousands, heck many saints and ministers can claim to be baptized and ‘converted’ masses of people, but how many of them persevere and go to heaven? Very few… Conversion is really and ultimately a lifelong vocation. As a disciple we are always following the narrow path and it’s a long hard journey compared to the wide road that many opt to take instead. In fact it’s really not your job to successfully convert anyone, merely at minimum to pass on the knowledge of God and do your best and leave the rest up to the Holy Spirit. Also you can as a resort suffer in place of the person in the hopes that it will save them and diminish their punishment due their iniquities.

    But ultimately one is saved because one wants to. As in, one must desire God and desire to be with Him. Because that’s heaven. It’s a marriage. If you don’t like the girl/man you’re getting married to, you’re not going to want that relationship. Marriage and Sex are not evolved random contraptions of accidental nature. God created them specifically, exactly as they are in the beginning with purpose. God is an artist trying to communicate something in how He created man, woman, marriage and sexuality. The key is understanding how this reflects the divine union and intimate relationship we are to enter. Basically look to the creation and explaining it from that standpoint. Try this approach on whoever it is you’re trying to convert.

    As for the topic of the damned. DO NOT ASSUME that person falls into that category! It is never too late. He is still alive. He exists in time and has time to change. For all you know, more souls could be saved tomorrow than on any other day before it. This does not diminish the truth of the statement that ultimately the majority are damned. But you do not know to what time or era that number regards nor on when any given day the ratio might be the total opposite! The saved are still an incalculable number and so vast! You and that person can number among them! The teaching is despairing which is why many do not like it, but rather than let it defeat you, redouble your efforts! It will get easier in time. I can personally attest to the fact that I’ve come a long way because of knowing these things. The fear set me on the right path. And the Good News always follows the bad!

    I will pray for your efforts to succeed.

  59. St. Epaphras says:

    Persecution will make it plenty tough to be a faithful Catholic. We won’t have to go looking for ways to show where we stand. They will be in our faces.

  60. Filipino Catholic says:

    Let’s not try to get too caught up in legalism here… remember a common argument leveled against us is that we emphasize rules too much and understate personal relationship with Jesus. Kinda the reason why Vatican II was convened.

    Filipino Catholic.

  61. skypilot777 says:

    As a husband, father, Catholic, and seemingly the only person in my immediate reach who appreciates the beauty of everything traditional in the Church, I recently married a lovely Catholic woman and so was joined into a larger family of Catholics, mostly not-so-appreciative-of-traditional-Catholicism and mostly not-so-well-catechized. I see it as my duty to shepherd my family into better practice of the Catholic faith.
    My greatest struggle, is not so much to re-introduce Catholic practices and devotions that have been officially discontinued, but in simply overcoming all the falsehoods that my family has been given over the years since Vatican II. I spend most of my time citing the Cathechism to demonstrate that the Church teaches the opposite of what they’ve been taught by their priests, or in reminding them of practices that were never officially discontinued but no longer even spoken of by their priests.

  62. Bea says:

    DetJohn says:
    14 August 2012 at 7:07 pm
    When it was harder to be Catholic it was better to be Catholic.

    Loved that statement, DetJohn.
    It not only was “better to be Catholic” but we were Better Catholics.

    We are in Spiritual Battle.
    If we don’t “train”, we will not be prepared for the battle of the Church Militant.

    Short list of too much spiritual disarmament
    1. EMHC: so many unconsecrated hands handling Our Lord
    2. No kneeling for communion
    3. Communion given to public figures who flaunt their disobedience of Catholic teachings.
    (1,2&3 reduce our sense of awe of just Who we are receiving)
    4. No fasting on Fridays weakens our sense of temperance in food and increases self-indulgence.
    5. Loss of the sense of sin. “you’re OK, I’m OK” touchy-feely sermons.
    6. During Lent, fasting was a daily event (except for Sundays or special Holy Days). This weakens our – resolve and the sense of penance for sin. We fasted, we survived and we were better for it.
    7. Bishops extolling Social Teachings to the detriment of Christ’s Teachings. Some of His statements – – even misrepresented to promote their agendas.

    And on and on, didn’t even begin to touch where our weakness now lies. When the big tests come, how can we even have the spiritual gumption to hang on to Our Lord, when our resolve is weak.

  63. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Johnno (and also dear @Michelle), the words of Our Lord mean precisely what they say. They mean that (unspecified) few [given the evilness and unnaturality of sin, even 4/5 or 99/100 could be said to be few]are on the way to revelation, and that (unspecified) many are on the way to damnation. [And thus of course, common sense, but not the Lord, tells us that the few that are on the way to salvation are no vast majority. Yet the others also may still be saved, and I hope they will be in vast amounts.] And “on the way” does not mean “will reach in the end”. They mean nothing more, and please do not think they do.

    For clarification, I hold with as much certainty as is possible in private opinion that some person, may it not be myself, actually will be damned in the end. Some Scripture verses seem to me to be inexplainable otherwise.

    As to the main topic, much as I may agree with the details, I do not agree with the principle of the outset. Please do not make it harder to be a Catholic. Hardship for its own sake is is ungood.

    Yes, go back to Communion in the mouth, kneeling (unless handicapped). But not because it is harder, but as better expression of adoration, it is the better fitting way to receive Holy Communion.

    Yes, reintroduce some fasting. But not because it is harder, but it will on the contrary make it easier to fulfil the obligation to do some fasting (an obligation taught by Pope Paul VI). And also, as a preacher from the FSSP once remarked, because it leads to (and is the test of) Christian serenity.

    Yes, reintroduce some laws. But not because it is harder to be legalistic, but because it is on the contrary easier to fulfil one’s laws than always to be in uncertainty whether one has done enough. This, dear @Filipino Catholic, is the sense of legalism. Its attack is echoing the attack of Luther, who was against it because he wanted the Christians to be always burdened with a bad conscience, as he had the misfortune to be himself.

    And so on.

  64. Imrahil says:

    are on the way to salvation. Sorry.

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