At the core of the rot

As a preamble, today at Crisis, two new pieces touch the same issue: virtues that govern what is owed to God and what is owed to man. These virtues are closely related. Justice governs what is due to another human person. Religion governs what is due to Divine Persons.

Hence, at Crisis there is a piece by Eric Sammons, “When Bishops Lose Their Authority“. He tackles what we are faced by when bishops (L’affaire McCarrick) screw up badly: we might not owe the screw-up respect but we owe respect for his divinely constituted office. His office comes from God and that divinely constituted element is governed by the virtue of religion.

Sammons goes on to paint a picture of a kind of Protestant revolt going on in the Church again today:

The vast numbers of Catholics who have stopped practicing the faith in recent decades make the Reformation look like a warm-up act. All those fleeing Catholics didn’t leave simply because many bishops failed to live up to their office, but if nothing else, these bishops essentially put a doorstop in place to keep the exit doors open.

So what can Catholics who want to remain in the Church do? Should we mentally reject the authority of bishops, yet attend Mass and receive the sacraments while keeping our distance from the hierarchy? I don’t think that’s the answer, for that way eventually leads to schism.

He goes on to argue:

Ultimately, our goal is to replace the men, not the office. […] One practical way to do this is via the pocketbook.

I made the financial argument yesterday as an alternative to building gallows. HERE

Tracking back to the other article in Crisis, Joseh G. Trabbic of Ave Maria University writes about “Political Implications of Religion as a Moral Virtue“.  I know a bit about this, from my work on Ambrose, Augustine and the Civil Virtues. Trabbic get’s into the philosophy, engaging with Aristotle in particular.   He eventually shows the deep problems with social liberalism.  It’s a good read.

It is interesting that Crisis has two pieces today that deal with the virtue of religion. They are timely.

We owe everything to God.  Hence, all of our decisions and acts and words eventually have to take God into account.  He is our origin and our goal, our very reason for being.  We owe God everything.  The primary way by which, collectively, we give to God what is His due is through our sacred liturgical worship.  Religio and cultus, cult, worship are nearly intgerchangable when it come to our collective duty to God, whereas devotio might better characterize how we live religion as individuals.

It seems to me that everything bad that we see going on in the Church today comes back to the denigration of our sacred liturgical worship and the loss of true devotion.   Are these the sole causes?  No, but they are at the core of the rot.

My call for a revitalization of our sacred liturgical worship and the recovery of solid, old fashioned devotions is an existential issue.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Hard-Identity Catholicism, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000 and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Kevin says:

    “L’affair McCarrick” troubled me greatly. Then I read your ‘Rage over Card. McCarrick and Total War’ post and it relieved some of that rage. I also pulled out an index card I carry with me that has a story of Abba Anthony of the desert fathers. The story goes:

    “When the same Abba Anthony thought about the depth of the judgements of God, he asked, ‘Lord, how is it that some die when they are young, while others drag on to extreme old age? Why are there those that are poor and those who are rich? Why do the wicked men prosper and why are the just in need?’ He heard a voice answering him, ‘Anthony, keep your attention on yourself; these things are according to the judgement of God, and it is not to your advantage to know anything about them.”

    I am more at ease now over the latest sting due to the McCarrick issue. We do need to follow your call for the revitalization of sacred liturgical worship. Thank you Fr. Z for all that you do.

    “Go to Confession.”

  2. TonyO says:

    We owe everything to God. Hence, all of our decisions and acts and words eventually have to take God into account. He is our origin and our goal, our very reason for being. We owe God everything. The primary way by which, collectively, we give to God what is His due is through our sacred liturgical worship.

    Spot on, Fr. Z. Joseph Trabbic gets it right and Chris Tollefsen gets it wrong on this point. The metaphysical principle which grounds Trabbic’s point is that ALL created being tends toward its Creator, insofar as its nature permits, as its teleological end. In rational creatures, that tending is with an “ought” (which implies free will, and virtue ) and free choice for the good. The state is a rational creature derivatively in virtue of its people (Tollefsen almost gets that part right, in that he calls in “analogously”, but he misses the point. One proof is that states, just like individuals, can be immoral agents and bear just punishment for their wrong acts.) For a rational creature, worship of the Creator is the highest of its freely chosen acts, and thus worship of the the Creator under the cult revealed by Him is the highest and best of actions by the state.

    Put generically, though, worship of the divine to the extent known is a positive obligation of the state qua state: thus, in those who do not know of the one true God, worship of divinity is a better thing than refusal to worship at all, though of course lacking in perfection. In the Israelites, worship of the One True God was better than worship of idols. In Christians who are not Catholic, the worship of God under a rite that recalls the words of Christ is better than the worship of the Jews, though still lacking. In Catholics, worship via the Mass reaches the ideal. Thus, in Catholic states, it belongs to the excellence of the state itself (and not just of the people in the state) that the state publicly worship God in the Mass, the rite God himself gave men. This implies a confessional state, that it publicly acknowledge Catholicism as the true religion.

    Also implied is that the state be led by the Church in recognizing due worship of the Creator, and this in turn entails that the Church take on its proper role of discerning better and worse in that worship. There is no question at all that the NO, as it is generally practiced, is a lesser form of worship than the EF, as usually carried out. Anyone who says otherwise is blowing smoke (to put it nicely). Maybe, if we were to ever get the reform that Vatican II actually called for, we might have an even better rite than either the NO or the EF are, but it is no longer something one can realistically foresee happening: if even Benedict could not make it happen, what foreseeable pope could? In the current college of cardinals?

  3. Juan Carfuneral says:

    Dear Father,
    I’d like to thank you for this blog. It has become part of my daily routine to check in with you here. Over the years, I have received immeasurable benefits. The most important, are those that have quickened my conscience and revived my engagement in the great battle to repent of my sins and overcome temptation through the grace of the sacraments. The older I get, the more I realize how profoundly stupid I can be. My stupidity comes in a three-pack: thoughts, words and deeds. If you flip it over, you can see that it has both a commission side and an omission side. I check in with you each day because you always point out that there is an alternative to stupid. And, the alternative is pretty fantastic. Our Catholic Faith is everything. But the only way to realize this is to practice it. The Catholic faith is the only instance where practice does in fact make perfect. Not because of what we do, but because of what Our Divine Lord does with us…to us…for us…

    He gives me my identity. And your blog Father, helps me remember that. Thank you.

    Thank God that I read your blog post yesterday before watching the Vortex. I’m sure that Michael Voris is well intentioned but his #catholicmetoo movement disturbed me greatly. In a rush of emotion, I nearly sent him my own story. As I began writing it out (something I have never done), I felt physically sick. I don’t pretend to understand all the psychological noise and anxiety that these memories provoke but I do know that revisiting them has never given me any peace or consolation. I thought of myself as a victim for quite some time. When I thought of myself as a victim, I didn’t consider myself a real man. When I thought of myself as a victim, I didn’t practice my faith. When I thought of myself a victim, I gave myself license to sin. I lived in sin. My sin eliminated love from my life. My sin made me miserable.

    Through the tender love of Almighty God, I heard a recording of Bishop Sheen where he spoke about reading his life story in the crucifix. I understood. I went to confession. When the priest raised his hand to give me absolution, I knew that the Most Precious Blood of Christ makes all things new. Me too. That’s my #catholicmetoo. He gives me my identity. I want to love Him better. Only the sacraments, ministered by priests, give me the ability to love him more and more each day.

    Yesterday evening at Mass, I had a thought that never occurred to me before. Why do we pray the Our Father at that point of the Mass? Christ is on the cross, His flesh falling from his body like purpled rags… “Father forgive them they know not what they do”… “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”.

    I thank God that I read your post yesterday before going to Church Militant’s site. What they are advocating may be well intentioned but it is incredibly imprudent. These are extremely disturbing events in peoples lives. I believe that there are evil spirits associated with these events. Randomly opening a channel for all that is dangerous to souls. In my experience, this the horror of sexual abuse.

    I agree with you. If we want to clean up the Church and really do something to repair the lives of those who have been hurt, let’s revitalize our sacred worship and recover our devotions! Let’s have public holy hours of reparation for our sins, the sins of our clergy and those of the whole world. Let’s invite our bishops to lead these holy hours of reparation. Let’s pray to Our Lady for our priests who do battle with principalities and powers. Let’s call upon the saints and angels to guard us and defend us. Let’s invoke the Most Precious Blood of Christ to make all things new.

    Anything else would be decidedly un-Catholic and therefore woefully inadequate.

  4. philosophicallyfrank says:

    With all due respect (and my respect for Fr. “Z” is great), my impression of what Michael Voris was calling for was the divestiture of “ocean front palatial mansions” such as Card. McCarrick owned. I don’t think that there is any reason for parishioners’ donations to be used for an “upscale” style of living.

  5. FN says:

    Thank you Juan for that beautiful comment. Amen!

  6. Malta says:

    Ask yourself: why are Catholic states among the most pro-abortion:
    Bishops in these states should be at least organizing peaceful pro-life Rosaries in front of abortion clinics.

  7. TonyO says:

    my impression of what Michael Voris was calling for was the divestiture of “ocean front palatial mansions” such as Card. McCarrick owned. I don’t think that there is any reason for parishioners’ donations to be used for an “upscale” style of living.

    While it certainly happens that some of the money used for such nonsense comes from church donations, (and as a consequence the priests’ actions in diverting charitable donations should be treated as illegal fraud, prosecuted, and reversed / divested), it can happen that some few of these priests are actually independently wealthy, such as from family money. In which case the Church has no authority to divest them of their unseemly posh habitations – but she sure as heck has the authority to give them ecclesiastical punishments for their behavior. Far more importantly, these predator priests need to be attacked where they do the most damage, which is that they corrupt other priests and the whole process of advancement. Unfortunately, it is very hard to attack that directly, which is why attacking their money serves as a substitute, kind of like getting Al Capone for tax evasion. Better than nothing. I don’t think it likely that concentrating on their financial shenanigans is likely to stem the rot, not alone, but if it is done in tandem with addressing the more serious elements of their corruption, it will help.

    Ultimately, it demands the whole college of cardinals, with the support of scads of archbishops, admitting publicly that there is a widespread problem that they have hitherto not dealt with; it demands also that the hierarchy put their money where their mouths are and say quite boldly that homosexual behavior is always a sin, and take the heat from MSM that will generate. It demands investigations that can find complicit behavior, and even minor (in a sense) peccadilloes in shocking numbers, even at the cardinal level. It demands that many of these men offer their resignations and come forward to testify to what was done to them in the seminaries, what was done to them as young priests, what THEY did themselves to turn a blind eye or to advance the careers of pink confreres, perhaps unwillingly but still with acceptance. It also demands that the Vatican completely revise the process of putting forward new candidates for bishops and cardinals, one that recognizes the corruption for what it is and takes steps to prevent it (transparency being one option, though perhaps not the only or best option). For all these reasons, it is implausible to expect it to happen any time soon, not until we get a firebrand pope who is both willing to be a martyr and who has the force of character to lead those prelates who are unwilling co-conspirators to the corruption to finally stop consorting with demons and step into the light, come what may.

  8. Mojoron says:

    Some of these articles mention Bishop Finn, ex of the Diocese of Kansas City, MO., who was found guilty in District Court of keeping the facts of a priest who had child porn on his computer quiet from the authorities. Bishop Finn was hated by the Fishrap. But while he was there in KC, he revitalized the diocese and had built up the Seminarian League to a respectable level one that had not been that high for a number of years. While Bishop Finn’s office was vacated, Archbishop Joseph Nauman took control and made a very excellent impression of the Catholics in the across-the-street diocese (Nauman is Archbishop of Kansas City in Kansas.) I have high hopes for both diocese’s in the future and, in particular, Archbishop Nauman is a wonderful Shepherd and he is one that should NOT be fired In deference to Michael Voris.

  9. Grateful to be Catholic says:

    The Bishop Finn case deserves a closer look. It is clear that no law was broken and the bishop was railroaded by an ambitious prosecutor. He took the fall for the diocese. I think he was treated most unjustly by both civil and ecclesiastical authorities.

Comments are closed.