#Synod2018 – Wherein Fr. Z rants

“For God so loved the world that He did not send a committee.”

“If I ought to write the truth, I am of the mind that I ought to flee all meetings of bishops, because I have never seen any happy or satisfactory outcome to any council, nor one that has deterred evils more than it has occasioned their acceptance and growth.” – St. Gregory Nazianzus (ep. 131)

It seems to me that all this thrashing around with a Synod (“walking together”) is a waste of time… at least when it comes to the topic of “young people”.

First, there is almost no way that what happens there won’t come off as condescending.

Next, there is almost no way that what happens there will produce “solutions”.

How about this.

Let’s return to the liturgical worship of our forebears and give that a try, with the whole thing that even Vatican II commanded (Gregorian chant, Latin, no innovations, etc.).

Let’s return to clear preaching and explication of doctrine, succinctly and with conviction.  Getting rid of unneeded microphones could help (cf. McLuhan).

Let’s promote parish activities as of yore and opportunities for corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

But it all comes back to preaching (catechesis) and, above all, sacred liturgical worship.

My old pastor, Msgr. Schuler was wont to quip, “Nemo dat quod non got”, purposely macaronic, for “You can’t give what you aint’ got.”

We have to know clearly what we believe (fides quae creditur) and have a solid, holy relationship with the content of our Faith (fides quae creditur – a Person!) and we must be able to communicate it clearly and with charity (1 Peter 3:15).

If we don’t know who we are, then we can’t share who we are.  If we can’t share who we are, why should anyone bother to listen to us?

Why should young people listen to the previous generations if a) we don’t know the Faith and b) we don’t act like we believe it?

The strongest signals they receive are c) the Faith doesn’t mean enough to us that we want to hand it on and d) they don’t see us on our knees. 

They see us stick our hands out and they know that we never go to confession.  They’re not stupid.

And yet, inherent, I think, in young people, especially children, is a liturgical being struggling to be realized.  They want truth.  They have the right inclinations.  Hence, when they don’t get the good stuff that our forebears worked out really well, then they search for it elsewhere and through all they know: enthusiastic dashing about.

The starting point, therefore, is a renewal of our sacred liturgical worship of God.  That’s where we must start and that’s where we must wind up.

We cannot simply have a marketing approach evangelization.  Everything we do must flow from our Catholic identity and that must start and aim at worship, as individuals and as congregations.

We need liturgical worship for our identity, like our bodies need shelter, air and nourishment.

If we have become ineffective bring the Faith to the masses and the masses to the Faith, including young people, then we need to review how we are worshiping Almighty God.

We need a strong, hard identity liturgical life!  Prayer in the home with joy!   Works of mercy as a regular part of life!

Ask yourselves: Is what are you are getting at your parish or chapel providing what young people (and you) need?  Clear Catholic identity (which involves works of mercy as a sine quibus non)?

Fathers: Is that what you are providing for your flocks?

If not… for the love of all that’s holy WHY NOT?!?

This Synod stuff will wind up being smoke and mirrors, I’m afraid, unless simple points are addressed.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Ms. M-S says:

    If you can’t give what you ain’t got, you sure can’t live what you ain’t been taught. Maybe the young people with the crypto-stang and the red knotted wrist thing weren’t anything near satanists or wiccans at all but rather products of Vatican 2 metastasized ecumenism. If they’ve been taught that all roads lead to Heaven, small wonder they go into the big tent singing Gather Us In. If they’d been taught that outside the Church there’s no salvation, maybe they’d be referring more closely to the road map. If we’ve forgotten who we are, how will the young people learn who they are?

  2. Simon_GNR says:

    Ah, yes! Meetings. Where minutes are taken and hours are squandered!

    The holding of meetings instead of getting on and doing things that might do some good is neatly satirised in the film Monty Python’s Life of Brian. With Brian being crucified, the People’s Front of Judea convokes a Rescue Committee to discuss saving Brian from death. They decide to do nothing to rescue him but thank him for being a martyr for their cause.

    When I was a young adult I hated being categorised as a “young person”. I’m just a person and I don’t want to be pigeon-holed or be expected to conform to a stereotype of someone else’s imagining. I wonder if the Church is doing the right thing by setting out to be relevant to “yoof”. Why not just be the Church and carry out the Lord’s command to “Do this in memory of Me”? Evangelisation isn’t the same as marketing, but to use an analogy, it seems to me that many of the Church’s “salesmen” simply don’t believe in the “product” they’re supposed to be “selling”. What does the Church offer that no other organisation can offer? The way to eternal life in heaven with the Holy Trinity, beholding forever the beatific vision. The Church enable this to be done by means of the sacraments which are made available in this life to the members of the Church in order to help them on their way to their heavenly home.

  3. Bellarmino Vianney says:

    “The strongest signals they receive are…”

    One of the strongest signals that most are receiving is that “everyone goes to heaven” – but it is often stated in an ambiguous or duplicitous way. “We are all saved” or “God doesn’t condemn anyone”, etc.

    Such statements are sins against the Holy Spirit, which means that the strongest signals most people (Catholic or non-Catholic) are sins against the Holy Spirit.

    It is true that saving the liturgy will change the world for the better. But, if the priests are preaching Calvinism during a Tridentine Mass, well, the world won’t be saved.

  4. BrionyB says:

    Absolutely agree that people don’t act like they believe what they say they believe, and unfortunately their children are taught to do likewise. This is a huge problem.

    At my local parish church, when the altar servers cross the sanctuary during Mass, they will stop in the middle, stand with their backs to the tabernacle, and bow to the congregation. Now these are only young boys and girls, so presumably just doing as they’ve been told to do. But what are they supposed to think, when we tell them about the real presence of our Lord in the tabernacle, but also tell them to turn their back on Him and bow to the people instead? Every time they do that, it is surely eroding any faith they might have had. Actions speak louder than words.

    And then you hear, about the traditional Latin Mass, “but people can’t understand it”. But understanding is so much more than words. You might not know a word of Latin (though anyone who speaks a European language probably knows more than they think), but when you see the reverence, the genuflections, the focus always towards the altar, the people kneeling to receive – well, actions speak louder than words.

  5. Akita says:

    Ain’t gonna happen, Father Z. Though everything you say would indeed be the big fix.

    In a matter of days headlines around the world may even announce that the Latin Mass is abrogated, that there will be a new rite of same-sex blessings, that cohabitation before marriage is now required for Matrimony, and that sodomy is no longer a sin but a variant of human unitive expression.

    Because making a mess is evidence of the spirit at work.

  6. L. says:

    “Fathers: Is that what you are providing for your flocks? If not… for the love of all that’s holy WHY NOT?!?” In my diocese, teaching the faith– rather than vague “faith-journey” crapola or progressive heresy– used to earn a Priest a call from the diocese and then worse treatment if the “misbehavior” didn’t stop. One admirable young Priest was made a “storekeeper” for a while because he persisted in teaching the faith. And, I think, because he wasn’t enthusiastic about the sodo-clericalists running our diocese.

  7. bibi1003 says:

    Akita, I’ve been bracing myself for all of those things.

  8. FrAnt says:

    There’s no longer a need for smoke and mirrors. The truth of the Catholic Church has not been taught and lived in about 100 years. The “New Evangelization” is about people’s encountering God, which is relative and personal. I can’t tell you how many catholics tell me they don’t need to go to mass or confession because they have a personal relationship with God.

  9. chantgirl says:

    There has to be a bottom line for this synod, or it would not have been called. There is no way the rules were changed, the interventions kept secret from the public, and the attendants so selectively chosen for no reason. The synods on the family gave us Amoris Laetitia, with its bottom line of communion for those living in a state of adultery.

    So, what is the bottom line for this synod, and what novelty do we need to brace ourselves against?

  10. SanSan says:

    Thank you Father Z.

  11. Barnacle says:

    Oooh this is the Big Fix alright! Thanks, Akita! But how, against all the above-mentioned obstacles are we going to hammer it into place? That is the question. Grrr.

  12. maternalView says:

    You know many a young Saint did ok without anyone calling a meeting so as to figure out how to engage the young folks. As far as I can tell from reading various accounts of young Saints they were expected to participate in the faith just like everyone else.

  13. oldCatholigirl says:

    “Why should young people listen to the previous generations…?” The attitude which has been common since the ’60s [and I was young then) is that they shouldn’t. (Remember “Never trust anyone over 30?”) They’re supposed to tell us.

  14. riverrun says:

    “Let’s promote parish activities as of yore”

    Actually, Father, what did these look like?

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