READER FEEDBACK: “I want to be treated as an adult when it comes to catechesis and the Sacred Liturgy.”

From a reader, reacting to my post: Communion in the hand. Wherein Fr. Z rants and provokes.

Firstly, I want to thank you for your recent post/rant about “age appropriate food” when it comes to the Catholic Faith. I have had many conversations with friends and others about how at some parishes and masses, I feel as if I am back in grammar school, learning how to color in the lines while still retaining all current knowledge. To be honest, I typically feel insulted when I go to Mass and Father (or the deacon if it is not the priest who is preaching) ends up treating the faithful as if we were all five years old. Eventually, I am reminded this is something we have more or less done to ourselves over the last 50 or so years. (And from my own experience, this is the case in seminaries, as well.)

I currently attend a parish where Father says both forms of the Mass. Regardless of the form of the Mass, I have never felt as if I was being treated as a child when it comes to matters of Faith. Sadly, this modus operandi is not the norm in my diocese. But, thankfully, there is the slow trickle of young, well educated priests being ordained within the diocese that this “watering down” will eventually be done with.

As a member of the Faithful of the Catholic Church, I will testify that I want to be treated as an adult when it comes to catechesis and the Sacred Liturgy. Most people seem to discount my opinion since I’m “too young to remember the times before Vatican II, and can’t want something back I never had.” Well, they are correct. I was not around before Vatican II. I was not even around to remember the fall of Communism. But, I am a child of God.  I am the inheritor of nearly two thousand years of Christian Tradition, not merely the last fifty years or so.

Now, my rant is complete. I apologize for the length, but this is something I feel very strongly about, and you have managed to put it into words very eloquently. Thank you.

I think you are not alone.  Many people hunger for what you have the opportunity to experience.  Hopefully, in the future and with the help of more priests who are waking up and coming up in the ranks, that will accelerated.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    EWTN quotes Pope Benedict XXVI says that some books “books “show rightly that Pope Francis is a man of profound philosophical and theological formation and, therefore, help to show the inner continuity between the two pontificates, even with all of the differences of style and temperament.”

  2. maternalView says:

    ” I am the inheritor of nearly two thousand years of Christian Tradition, not merely the last fifty years or so.”

    We need to reclaim our heritage! Let’s not be shy in reviving and promoting those things that bring us closer to God and his Church. The vast treasury of Tradition is ours to embrace.

    I think we need to stop “defending” ourselves and our desire for more traditional worship, prayer and rituals. we need to simply do. If questioned (or attacked) our answer should be I love Jesus and his Church and these things you dismiss help me to love Him more and be closer to Him.

    We need to seek out and support those places that adhere to the Church’s teachings and manifest that by their actions.

  3. will99lang says:

    I feel as if the last 50 years have been on taking the Sacred out of the Liturgy. Or to put it into a Canadian way, they decided to do a Christmas party with a decorated palm tree, and expect us to believe it is the same as a Christmas tree.

    Or for Fr. Z`s preference: They see Rome and New York as having the same architectures.

  4. JonPatrick says:

    My analogy for the Church is an old family with history that stretches back centuries. Over these centuries the family has accumulated many beautiful and valuable pieces of furniture and other objects which filled their stately mansion. However a few generations ago, the family elders decided that the house was too old fashioned looking and out of date so they moved out most of the beautiful furniture to a warehouse and instead went to the local discount store and bought inexpensive and more modern looking furniture. Now 50 years later that modern furniture that was not well built to begin with is now showing its age. Some in the family have advocated bringing some of the classic old items out of storage. But the family elders resist this, saying “we can’t turn back the clock” and “these old items are not suitable for use in a modern era”. Someday the family elders will be replaced by younger people who cherish the traditions and who will start bringing back the beautiful old furnishings.

  5. The Masked Chicken says:

    I think one has to make a distinction between essentials and extras. I am sure that many people who read this blog would like a more detailed treatment of Catholic theology and liturgical practices available for them. That is all well and good. I would love to get a Ph.d in theology or at least have something more in churches than parish groups that do the Alpha program.

    What one learns through teaching, however, is that the presentation has to be pitched not to the A student or the F student, but the C student. As such, there needs to be a graded approach to Catholic parish adult education, so that everyone can learn as best they can.

    These are extras, however.

    What is non-negotiable are the essentials. Everyone, regardless of ability, needs to know what is really necessary and helpful to get them to Heaven. It is here that the Church in the, “modern,” world has fallen flat and this is not a matter of pedagogy. It is a matter of truth. Put simply and I hate to say this, the reason that we have the mess we have, today, is because of an agenda-driven group of change agents who have either corrupted or downright ignored the Truth for the sake of their, “truth.” The result is the deliberate obfuscation of the essentials or a misrepresentation of them to the laity by men in power who were or are (and I say this in fear and trembling) for all of their so-called brilliance, in reality, little more than dilettantes with charisma.

    Mass is said ad Populum, today, not because it is more, “historical,” but because somebody got it into their head that the past is purer (the informal fallacy is called, Argumentum ad Antiquitatem – the appeal to antiquity) and saw a few vague references (improperly interpreted) to ad Populum in ancient texts to bolster what they wanted to implement – not a true return to the past, but something more communally oriented. If you don’t see the shadow of Marxism in many of these changes, then you may have drunk the Kool-aid. The point is that even when it has been demonstrated that such things as ad Populum worship, Communion in the hand, etc., are not the enduring history of Catholic praxis, these people, with their confirmation bias, simply ignore you or claim you are not as much of a scholar as they are. All the while, they keep hiding the truth and whittling away at the idea of solitude and holiness and all of the other essentials of a true relationship with a transcendent God.

    The relationship between the Church and truth for the laity is, today, almost what it was like between society and cigarette companies in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Get people addicted to the Protestant fellowship idea, make Mass into praise and worship services. We are the People of God, don’tcha know. Never mind that the most striking difference a Protestant notices (or should notice) between his Sunday service and our Mass is the intense silence when he enters the Catholic Church building. It is only in silence that one can hear the truth. No, just like the cigarette ads of the Sputnik era, one has to see the Mass as fun, as social, as being for the cool kids – dare I say it, the, “modern,” kids. So much for resourcement. News flash, Cardinal de Lubac, the people in the ancient Church were desperately holding on for a new future, not looking back to the past. Oh, and did I mention that the greatest number of heresies per unit time were in the first five centuries of the Church? Are you saying that the Church failed to learn what it should have during that time and properly incorporate it into its daily life? Good grief, this isn’t resourcement, it is psychotherapy – let’s put the Church on the couch and see where it all went wrong…

    Well, there have always been studies, even in the late 1950’s that cigarettes were bad for you, but the cigarette companies squelched the research. The same happened with Mass orientation, etc. It is not that the people in the pews have been fed pablum, it is that they have been lied to, deliberately, willingly, by a small group of men, who convinced a much larger group of men to be their unwitting allies.

    Unlike the commenter who occasioned this post, I have seen, first-hand, the damage these dilettantes have wrought in the lives of innocent, trusting laity…and as I get older, I get angrier (and rantier – I know that’s not a word). What broke the backs of the cigarette companies? First of all, good research, but most importantly, a group of high-powered lawyers (whom you will, probably, never meet) who decided to litigate for the public, pro bono. They took it to the cigarette companies with the new and compelling research that was available and knowing their tactics, were able to slowly, methodically, demolish them.

    That is what it is going to take. If you are young and talented and don’t mind being poor, study Greek and Latin, philosophy, and theology, and then do the research necessary to uncover the wrong-headed thinking by the change agents of the Church of the last 100 or so years. Then, people in authority (hey, we need our own secret cabal of cardinals) begin to slowly, methodically, introduce this correct research and, knowing the tactics of the other side, demolish their arguments.

    This is the only way that the essentials of sin, of redemption, of holiness, of objectivity, will become, once again, the common inheritance of everyone in the Church. If you think that the new young priests are going to bring about this change in anything like a permanent basis, then you do not understand the forces you are fighting. The up-and-coming generation are just a pendulum swing. Until you make Modernism so distasteful, its illness so hideous, just like tobacco, it will keep coming back – maybe not in the following generation, but within centuries, certainly. St. Augustine, St. Athenasius, and many others railed against the heresy of Arianism and by the force of their arguments, prevailed (with a little help from a Council and Pope, or two). Where are the arguments against Modernism, against la Nouvelle Theologie? We need good research and wise, but cunning rhetoric to overcome the infantilization of the Church. I hate to sound paranoid, but one gets the idea that certain segments wants the laity to be infantilized, to be happy with their version of the drug, Soma.

    Well, I didn’t mean to go on like this. I used to be such a happy chicken, but travel really does broaden the mind and I have seen many churches across the world. It certainly is not the laity that is destroying the Church. They are merely smoking the cigarettes provided to them.

    The Chicken

  6. ejcmartin says:

    I am not sure if you saw the report “Understanding Former Young Catholics?” This was a study of young adults who no longer practiced their faith. One of the points that struck me was that one of the things that helped young people stick with the Church was a sophisticated understanding of the Faith. (That and for young men, a strong relationship with their father. Something I am trying my utmost to do.)

  7. iamlucky13 says:

    This reminds me of a thought that occurred to me as Mass last weekend, at the parish we live in (I think – I’ve found no way of determining parish boundaries in our archdiocese) rather than the one we are registered at.

    One of the hymns, based loosely on Psalm 23, kept repeating, “You are my friend, I want to follow always, just to follow my friend.”

    Aside from really not getting the metaphor the psalmist was using, it felt both juvenile and shallow. Of course, that’s nothing new for modern liturgical music, but for some reason it stood out to me.

    Then later that day I saw Father Z’s rant about being treated like an adult.

  8. iamlucky13 says:

    @ The Masked Chicken
    A good post, as usual, but is this part really true:

    “Mass is said ad Populum, today, not because it is more, “historical,” but because somebody got it into their head that the past is purer”

    I get the impression that Mass is said versus populum because somebody got it into their head that it was more interactive (and yet not even in a way of recalling the priest serves “in persona Christi”), or perhaps more democratic. As you go on to say, the historic argument then supports what they really want, which seems to be to alter how we see our relationship with the transcendent God.

    I only hear the argument that it is more historical occasionally, and mainly in specific contexts where it seems to be an attempt to turn the idea of tradition against traditionalists.

    That, of course, completely misses that the point preserving many of the liturgical traditions that are contentious is not the traditions themselves, but the meaning they convey in the liturgy. The goal is not to oppose change, but to preserve what is worthy and meaningful. The resistance is not against progression, but against dilution, obfuscation, or even regression.

  9. James in Perth says:

    I am so fortunate to attend a parish where the homily for THE CHILDREN has more meat in it than you would get at most Catholic parishes. And guess what? THE CHILDREN are smart enough to answer father’s or deacon’s questions!!! Questions about the meaning of words, church traditions, symbolism, redemption, and history.
    Why how could this be, you ask? I don’t know. Could it be high expectations?
    Such a sorrow to attend even a beautiful liturgy but not be fed in the homily when you are treated like a five-year old social justice warrior. In fact, it is an insult.

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