Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester

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WSJ: Traditional Catholicism Is Winning

April 16th, 2012, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

Yet another article saying we are not crazy – this time it’s the WSJ:

In dioceses where there are few ordinations, such as New York’s Rochester and Albany, people know this [priest] shortage well.

This aging generation of progressives continues to lobby church leaders to change Catholic teachings on reproductive rights, same-sex marriage and women’s ordination. But it is being replaced by younger men and women who are attracted to the church because of the very timelessness of its teachings.

They are attracted to the philosophy, the art, the literature and the theology that make Catholicism countercultural. They are drawn to the beauty of the liturgy and the church’s commitment to the dignity of the individual. They want to be contributors to that commitment—alongside faithful and courageous bishops who ask them to make sacrifices. It is time for Catholics to celebrate their arrival.

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76 Responses to “WSJ: Traditional Catholicism Is Winning”

  1. avatar Diane Harris says:

    What a joy to read, especially for renewal of our faith and belief that, indeed, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to be with us and that the gates of hell shall not prevail. What we have been experiencing for so many years is the “thinking of mankind” full of its ideas of how God should run His church, and pouting when he doesn’t do it the way humans strategize He should. The turning around, no matter how slow, is like a warm spring rain after a freezing winter; most welcome!

    The vandalization of the houses of God and the rape of their treasuries through closure and selling (to cover pedophile and other abuse lawsuits? Some financial reporting would certainly help to verify the real use!) leaves a scorched landscape but not without life budding anew. The closures and female administrators in particular have been a consistent and on-going vote of “no confidence” in the Holy Spirit, and in God’s ability to take care of His Church. It has been a stubborn insistence on doing it “Our Way.”

    The liberals need to totter off to their beach and golf enclaves and leave the rebuilding to those young men who want to truly serve God, who are responding to a vocational call with joy and commitment, rather than redesigning the pension plan and making pastoral planning charts. Those who want to give their lives to some One of meaning don’t need to disavow celibacy, but only to value the incredible opportunities they will have to serve and to refresh the aridity.

  2. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    And even in spite of all that ent on in the DOR, people came forward and became priests and religious. Maybe not in the DOR but other areas were blessed with the gift of their vocation.

  3. avatar Jim says:

    Jim M. here: Some good thoughts there, Ben. I wonder if all of the priests who are on convocation with the Bishop this week, would consider some of these points, as they discuss the future of our diocese, and witness the emptying of pews in some of their churches!

  4. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    How would these priests consider this? There will obviously be no mention by yht bishop since this web site has been so critical.

    Do priests read this blog?

    From prior performance, they would not do anything unless they were mandated by a new bishop to do this.

    It comes down to the questions: How long a leach are they on and are any ever going to go out of their comfort zone and address some very uncomfortable issues.

    Hopefully there are priests in the DOR who are in communication with leaders of this blog.

    God bless.

  5. avatar Dr. K says:

    I wonder if all of the priests who are on convocation with the Bishop this week, would consider some of these points, as they discuss the future of our diocese, and witness the emptying of pews in some of their churches!

    They won’t. In fact, they’ll consider quite the opposite. The speaker invited to the convocation this year is Edward P. Hahnenberg from Xavier. He may be the one person out there to have promoted Lay Ecclesial Ministry more than Bishop Clark: http://site.xavier.edu/hahnenbe/Edward_P_Hahnenberg/Speaking_Schedule.html

  6. avatar annonymouse says:

    With all due respect, Dr. K, must they be mutually exclusive? I would agree that we oughtn’t encourage lay ecclesial ministry IN PLACE OF priestly ministry, but cannot we foresee a Church in which we have increasing numbers of priestly vocations and, side-by-side, see increasing numbers of non-ordained who seek to work within the Church to build the Kingdom?

    As much as I pray daily for increasing priestly vocations (and personally encourage same when presented with the opportunity), I cannot imagine that the Church will grow and flourish solely on the efforts of ordained clergy. And even the most wildly successful vocation efforts are never going to return us to the days where a parish had a pastor and three or four associate priests.

  7. avatar Jim says:

    Jim M. here: Wow, Dr. K, this speaker sounds like the the poster boy for progressive, non-priestly functioning parishes! I would have to disagree with annonymouse, in that our pews are emptying out for precisely that reason. We have too many lay people doing the work of the ordained priests. There is nothing wrong with functioning lay people working in a parish, but when these people outnumber the priests 2 to 1, and do practically everything except elevate the Host during the consecration, the folks in the pews take notice and seek a church with active ordained priests. On a number of occasions, I’ve been to churches, where at Communion time, droves of people come forward to distribute Holy Communion, while the priests sit back and watch them.

  8. avatar Bruce says:

    What a lack of faith, Mouse. I would rather have fewer parishes with actual priests running them then a hundred fake parishes with ladypriests and uberlaity running them. The former are called Catholic parishes. The latter are protestant wastelands.

    LEMs are useless and should be discontinued immediately. I would rather drive an hour for Mass than to have some fake pastor lead a communion service.

    DOR – you deserve better. Other dioceses are gaining priests. You’re not. Its your own fault for caving into LEMs.

  9. avatar Bruce says:

    A priest who does not distribute Communion, and is not paralyzed or 4 million years old, is hardly a priest.When there are more uberlaity in the sanctuary than laity in the pews, that is a problem.

    LEMs create a “super” class of laity, and these uberlaypersons suffer from collar envy and relish in “lording over” the rest of the laity. They think they’re better than us, when they have absolutely no reason to. They’re just laypeople like you and me, and it is charitable to remind them of that on a daily basis. They have no power or prestige, no matter how much they want it.

    Go to the priest for everything. If he refuses or pushes you to LEM, persist anyway. Make him do his job and IGNORE LEMs as if they didn’t exist, because in reality, they don’t.

  10. avatar Gretchen says:

    Anonymouse needs to read the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity from Vatican II: http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decree_19651118_apostolicam-actuositatem_en.html

    Here’s a bit: “In the Church there is a diversity of ministry but a oneness of mission. Christ conferred on the Apostles and their successors the duty of teaching, sanctifying, and ruling in His name and power. But the laity likewise share in the priestly, prophetic, and royal office of Christ and therefore have their own share in the mission of the whole people of God in the Church and in the world.(2)

    They exercise the apostolate in fact by their activity directed to the evangelization and sanctification of men and to the penetrating and perfecting of the temporal order through the spirit of the Gospel. In this way, their temporal activity openly bears witness to Christ and promotes the salvation of men. Since the laity, in accordance with their state of life, live in the midst of the world and its concerns, they are called by God to exercise their apostolate in the world like leaven, with the ardor of the spirit of Christ.”

    Diversity of Ministry–the laity work with the bishops, priests, and religious, not in their stead.

    Gretchen from SOP

  11. avatar annonymouse says:

    Jim, Bruce, Bruce and Gretchen – did any of you actually READ my post?

    I think I was clear that lay “ministers” ought not REPLACE the functions of priests, but must there be an either-or mentality here? The post I was responding to, by Dr. K, seemed to indicate that encouraging lay ministry is akin to downplaying the role of the presbyterate. Is it? I am merely asking if that sort of thinking is necessary.

    Aren’t we deluding ourselves if we think that one day priests will once again perform all of the functions that they did say, 50 years ago, functions such as RCIA, baptism prep, children’s and adult catechesis and so forth? This is to say nothing of the ministries our parishes SHOULD be doing and many aren’t – social justice things like feeding the poor, clothing the naked, visiting the imprisoned, etc.

    Another element, of course, is the role of permanent deacons (clergy, not laity) but we don’t seem to have a plethora of vocations to the diaconate, either.

    I absolutely agree that parishes should be led by priests (oh, and canon law says that too), but if we are about building the Kingdom (and isn’t that the ONLY thing we should e about?), aren’t there more than enough parish-based roles to be filled that we need to be encouraging BOTH priestly vocations and lay vocations?

  12. avatar militia says:

    LEM = Lame Excuse Ministry

    Lame excuse by the bishop to tolerate what is against church law

    Lame excuse by priests who would rather sit in meetings than do what only they can do (say Mass and forgive sins)

    Lame excuse by other priests who are afraid to protect their flocks from LEM’s and speak out

    Lame excuse by LEM’s who just want to be one of the boys,

    Lame excuse by laity who don’t walk out when an LEM takes over.

    Lame excuses and lame ducks.

  13. avatar Bruce says:

    I’m sick of this “but the priests can’t do EVERYTHING…” garbage being floated around. A priest needs to mainly offer the Sacraments, particularly the Eucharist, Baptism, Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, and Marriages. He has time to that, for priests since the beginning of the Church have had time to do that.

    All of the other “pastoral” trappings that uberlaity have gotten their hands on over the years IS NOT NECESSARY. The Sacraments are necessary. Parish festivals, councils, meetings, socials, and the like are NOT.

    Priests CAN and SHOULD do it ALL. And if they’re aren’t enough of them, work your butt off increasing vocations – altar boys, adoration, Marian devotion.

    Have a little faith. Maybe some parishes close in the mean time. Good! Smaller and more pure will have a greater effect than bloated and ridden with uberlaity.

  14. avatar JLo says:

    Even in the olden days priests were assisted by laity, but in the mundane, like office work and grounds work, but now we have career people in parishes, and that sends out messages that we don’t want sent. It was a creeping thing: an office manager in a large parish with several office workers all of a sudden was called an Administrator… and it went on creeping from there. Priests need help, even in teaching (which the GIRM says is an express role Deacons have, by the way), so they are freed up to serve our spiritual lives. Problem is what it always has been… humans grasp for power and control and elevate themselves. We need to go back to humble workers without personal agendas in parish offices, not a half-dozen administrators of this and that and then everything! +JMJ

  15. avatar annonymouse says:

    Bruce, you have a very narrow vision of what the role of the Church is, and frankly, it’s just plain wrong. If you were to read the documents of Vatican II as well as innumerable papal encyclicals, the Church is about far more than the seven sacraments. The Church itself is THE Sacrament of Christ in the world – the principal means by which Christ is made present in our world. That encompasses oh so much more than the seven sacraments. Are the seven sacraments important? By all means – they are the principal vehicles by which God’s grace comes to us. But the Church does not begin and end there, and for you to think so is, frankly, heretical.

    One thing you are correct about – the priest’s primary role should be the sacraments. Actually, no, that’s not correct either. The priest’s primary role is proclamation of the Gospel and preaching (again, right out of the Council’s non-negotiable teaching).

  16. avatar annonymouse says:

    On the last point, to save you the trouble of telling me I’m crazy, you can read that in Presbyterorum Ordinis (4). That is, if you’re interested in opening your horizons to what the Magisterium actually teaches.

    Unless you wish to deny the teachings of the Vatican Council, which would be a larger problem, since we Catholics believe them to be infallible.

  17. avatar BigE says:

    @annonymouse
    Amen. I like you more everytime I read your posts. We may not agree on all things but I certainly support your view of what the Church IS and how we are called to serve by virtue of our Baptism. And serving is more that just “praying, paying, and obeying”.

    “The Christian faithful are those who, inasmuch as they have been incorporated in Christ through Baptism, have been constituted as the people of God; for this reason, since they have become sharers in Christ’s priestly, prophetic, and royal office in their own manner, they are called to exercise the mission which God has entrusted to the Church to fulfill in the world, in accord with the condition proper to each one.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 871)

  18. avatar Bruce says:

    Mouse, you must have missed the source and summit of the Catholic faith: The Eucharist.

    Over all else, stands the Eucharist.

    But then again, who could blame you for being wrong. You’re in the DOR and you like LEMs. Enough said.

  19. avatar Bruce says:

    CCC 1324 (http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p2s2c1a3.htm)

    “The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.”136 “The other sacraments, and indeed ALL ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch.”

    Priests need this first, everything else can wait. If you disagree, Mouse, you’re outside the Church.

  20. avatar Bruce says:

    CCC 1566 “It is in the Eucharistic cult or in the Eucharistic assembly of the faithful (synaxis) that they exercise in a supreme degree their sacred office; there, acting in the person of Christ and proclaiming his mystery, they unite the votive offerings of the faithful to the sacrifice of Christ their head, and in the sacrifice of the Mass they make present again and apply, until the coming of the Lord, the unique sacrifice of the New Testament, that namely of Christ offering himself once for all a spotless victim to the Father.”49 From this unique sacrifice their whole priestly ministry draws its strength.”

    Priests need this first, everything else can wait. If you disagree, Mouse, you’re outside the Church.

    LEMS are useless. Get rid of all of them.

  21. avatar Bruce says:

    Some of you LEM heads are obviously confusing the laity and the ordained. Yes, the laity share in the priestly, prophetic, and royal office of Christ, but not in the same way as the clergy.

    They’re different, despite what you want to believe.

    Laity have their role – in the WORLD – not in the Sanctuary and not in the Church.

    Woe to prideful uberlayperson, all puffed up with your “power” of LEM office, you’re not any different than me or any other lay person. YOU’RE NOT SPECIAL JUST BECAUSE YOU DO STUFF IN THE SANCTUARY. You’re just a layperson, like the 80 year old grandma and the 7 year old booger eater.

    LEMS – get over yourselves.

  22. avatar annonymouse says:

    Bruce – all of that is true. I never said the Eucharist is not the source and summit of Christian life. To say that would be to deny the Church.

    But this is infallible teaching:

    Presbyterorum Ordinis –
    The Ministry of Priests

    SECTION I
    Priests’ Functions

    4. The People of God are joined together primarily by the word of the living God.(And rightfully they expect this from their priests. Since no one can be saved who does not first believe, priests, as co-workers with their bishops, HAVE THE PRIMARY DUTY of proclaiming the Gospel of God to all. In this way they fulfill the command of the Lord: “Going therefore into the whole world preach the Gospel to every creature” (Mk 16:15), and they establish and build up the People of God. Through the saving word the spark of faith is lit in the hearts of unbelievers, and fed in the hearts of the faithful. This is the way that the congregation of faithful is started and grows, just as the Apostle describes: “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom 10:17).

    Moreover and back to the original point: Big E and I don’t agree on everything (i.e. I give my intellectual assent to EVERY curial promulgation, including papal encyclicals, whether or not proclaimed infallibly), but on this one he’s spot on.

    Bruce, your view of the role and function of Jesus’ Church is frighteningly narrow and small. And the Church is ever so much more than the relatively small number of men called to serve as “sharers by special title in the priesthood of Christ, they might act as his ministers in performing sacred functions” (PO 5). We are ALL by our baptism sharers in the ministry of Christ as priest, prophet and king. We cannot and must not expect ordained priests to do everything nor should we think the Church consists only of what her priests can do. To think that is not only outside the Church, but it’s heretical.

    Your comment “laity have their role – in the WORLD – not in the Sanctuary and not in the Church” shows how utterly ill-informed you are – the “CHURCH” is in the WORLD!! There is no separation. WE (ordained and lay) ARE THE CHURCH! I’d suggest a slow, careful reading of the infallible teachings contained in Gaudium et spes.

    Finally, I am sure that there are prideful uberlaypersons, as there are prideful priests, bishops and deacons. We ALL must deal with sinful pride, don’t we? But many laypersons are humbly serving Our Lord in non-ordained ecclesial roles – I mean, it IS about serving the LORD, is it not???

  23. avatar Bruce says:

    Nope, Mouse, wrong again. The laity has a jurisdiction in the world. The clergy has a jurisdiction in the Church. This is how it is. To place the laity in positions of power within the Church (i.e., pastors) is akin to placing priests in positions of power in the world (i.e., politicians).

    The apostolate of lay Christians is different from the apostolate of the clergy or of religious. The Church teaches that lay Christians have a secular character. “A secular quality is proper and special” to lay men and women (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 31).

    Often, the secular world is seen in opposition to service of God, and people commonly think that they must somehow “leave the world” to exercise their calling. But in fact the contrary is true. Lay Christians are particularly called to find God and to serve God through involvement with the people and situations of this life. This issue was debated at great length during the Second Vatican Council. The following summarizes some of Church teaching on this matter:

    There is an eternal value and significance to this world. This life is where the first fruits of the Kingdom of Heaven appear (Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, 5).

    The whole Church has an “authentic secular dimension. . . .deeply rooted in the mystery of the Word Incarnate” which all her members share in different ways (The Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful, 15).

    Temporal things are to be honored because they are good in themselves and aid human beings (Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, 6).

    Healing this world and bringing it to the fulfillment that God intends is part of the redeeming work of Jesus (Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, 5).

    We are to seek to “consecrate the world” rather than have “contempt” for the world (Pope Paul VI, To All Religious).

    There is a path to holiness that is truly secular – the path of spiritual transformation through loving, prayerful work in the midst of and for the sake of the world (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 41).

    Lay Christians have a special call to bear witness to priests and religious of the great value and significance of this world in God’s plan (The Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful, 55).

    No where above, Mouse, does it suggest that lay persons should be crowding the Sanctuary and operating within the Church. There is no need. That is the jurisdiction of priests and bishops. Their jurisdiction stops at the door, where ours begins.

    It does the Church no good to have laity and clerics vying for power within the Church, with no one out in the world operating on her behalf. YOUR JOB is IN THE WORLD, Mouse, NOT IN THE SANCTUARY.

    LEMS must be banned, forever.

  24. avatar Bruce says:

    Game. Set. Match. Bruce wins again.

  25. avatar BigE says:

    @Bruce
    Since Mouse wasn’t proposing or supporting lay pastors, or lay people vying for power in the sanctuary –> you’ve only created a strawman argument….which means instead of “game, set, match” you actually have just whiffed on your response….

  26. avatar Bernie says:

    Oh boy, a donnybrook!

  27. avatar annonymouse says:

    Thank you, E – well said. Bruce beats some strawman at tennis.

  28. avatar annonymouse says:

    Bruce – please go up and read by 5:16p post from April 19. You are arguing against things I’ve never said.

    What I HAVE said, and I’ll say it again, is this – your view of what the Church is and its place in the world is dangerously misguided. You seem to see Church as some filling station where the Faithful show up once a week (or more frequently) to “gas up” for their own personal journey of holiness. Right? I suppose if that were all there were to the Catholic Church, then it would be just fine to do it all with a handful of priests. Wouldn’t even need deacons then, either.

    But that view of our Church is dangerously (yes, dangerous to your SOUL) misguided and completely out of touch with either the teachings of Jesus Christ (please read Matthew chapter 25) or the Fathers of the Church (read any or all of the Council’s documents). The Church is, and needs to be, the very presence of Jesus Christ in the world. That vision is ever so much bigger than your filling station idea of Church. And in a Church that is concerning itself with bringing Christ’s presence to every creature, there is ample room for both ordained and lay ministers to carry on all that expansive mission entails.

  29. avatar Bruce says:

    We don’t need deacons or LEMs. We need priests and bishops with spinal columns.

    This isn’t too hard, since it is the truth. :)

  30. avatar annonymouse says:

    Funny that, Bruce, because the 1500 or so Bishops who comprised the (infallible) Second Vatican Ecumenical Council deemed that the Church DOES need permanent deacons.

    Once again, Bruce protests (i.e. PROTESTANT) the teaching of the magisterium, in favor of his own private, misguided version of Catholicism.

  31. avatar Bruce says:

    Can a deacon or LEM give us the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?

    No?

    Not needed. Neat for some parishes. Even allowed by the Church. But not really needed. :)

    (win, again).

  32. avatar BigE says:

    @Bruce
    (1 Cor: 12-19): “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body…If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
    ……
    (1 Cor: 21-24): The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor.”
    …..
    I now present to you Bruce playing the role of the eye and the head in our special reenactment of St. Paul’s eloquent definition of how ALL the parts of the body are integral to the Body of Christ. Good job Bruce, you played those parts well. :)

  33. avatar annonymouse says:

    BigE – give it up…Bruce is a lost cause. The ONLY thing that matters in Bruce’s church is the “Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.”

    Not to diminish the importance of the Mass, of course, as the Eucharist is the source and summit of our Christian life. But even in his discussion of the Mass, Bruce forgets (or never learned in his catechism) that the Mass is both Liturgy of the Eucharist AND Liturgy of the Word (and deacons can and do proclaim the Gospel, Bruce!). The Mass is the starting point, the foundation, of our Christian life, but that extends into the world (Go and proclaim the good news…thanks be to God). Bruce must be deep in personal prayer at that point of the Mass, I guess, and doesn’t even hear those words. And the mission to go into the world is not “not needed” Bruce. If our Christian life begins and ends at the Church door, we’ve sadly missed the entire point of Jesus and the Church he founded.

    More to the point of this thread, nowhere does it say that the Church cannot, or should not, employ lay people in the carrying out of its mission. Or deacons (Bruce – see Acts, Chapter 6 I believe it is). Indeed, lay people have worked in our Church side by side with the ordained since the beginning.

    In response to your last paragraph, BigE, I would ask Bruce this – exactly which part of the body of Christ (which is the Church) are YOU? (hint – NOT the eye or the head!)

  34. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    Bruce. Sure, Decons can proclaim the gospel and distribute communion. That sure is important but if there is no priest, there will be no Eucharist for the Decons to distribute. The priest is the heatr and I may be only the tip of a fingernail but I am OK with that because the heart feeds me with Jesus, hears my confession and annoints me when I am dying. As far as proclaiming the gospel, I dare to say priests are going to do a hell of a lot more gospel proclamation than this mere fingernail.

  35. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    Sorry Bruce. I was addressing annonymous

  36. avatar annonymouse says:

    Richard Thomas, not surprisingly, you seem to have the same narrow view of the role of the Church as does Bruce. It’s all about providing you with Sacraments – Eucharist every week (day), hearing your confession, anointing you when you’re dying. And it ends right there, right?

    If you (or others here) think that’s all there is to the Roman Catholic Church, now or for that matter at any time in her history, you’ve been sadly and badly misled. I do not mean to diminish the importance of the Sacraments (oh, you forgot the most important – BAPTISM!), but if you think your personal responsibility, or our corporate responsibility, begins and ends with the sacraments, I’d suggest you crack open both the Good Book and the Church’s infallible teachings and educate yourselves.

    Finally, you are called in your baptism, even as “one small fingernail,” to proclaim the gospel by your life! You have no less a role in proclaiming the gospel to the world than does any priest. In fact, since you are “in the world,” perhaps your responsibility is even greater!

  37. avatar Bruce says:

    Mouse, you seem to have a very broad, if not flat, view of the Church. Perhaps I focus on the fundamental – which is precisely what the DOR has lost.

    I stand by what I said. As long as the Church is militant, priests are indispensable. We cannot go on without them. We can live without deacons and LEMS. We cannot live without the Eucharist.

    Your constant cheerleading for LEMs in a diocese completely bereft of Catholicism is a proven failure. What you need is a return to the basics – a real bishop and real priests, not more ridiculous LEMs and deacons, who cannot provide the help the DOR needs.

  38. avatar Bruce says:

    Parishes that do not have priests should close. They are nothing more than protestant meeting houses.

  39. avatar Diane Harris says:

    Bruce, I am just going to have to disagree with you on your comment that:

    “Parishes that do not have priests should close.”

    No, they should get priests, and keep a local presence, hold a congregation from leaving, and truly serve the flock. I know just a few priests who don’t count their Masses, who do what is necessary for the people, and in turn the people love them. Go other places in the world and see (in the rural areas of Africa, for example) how people’s faith is growing even if they can’t have Mass each week, and how the priests will do 10 or more Masses in a weekend to bring Christ to the people.

    Years ago, we brought to the attention of this diocese that there are plenty of English speaking priests in Malta in menial non-Church jobs because there are TOO MANY PRIESTS there. Unless one had an agenda of closing churches, it would seem such an opportunity would be seized! We offered money from our church treasury to secure such help. We were ignored, and the treasury snatched anyway by diocesan edict. Those men are still in Malta and, yes, they do speak English.

    Instead, the powers-that-be seem to be seeking ways to close churches. Priests should stop messing around with pastoral planning and dragging out decisions for years until people are too exhausted to say ‘no’ anymore. We need priests for the sacraments of course, but also for spiritual direction, catechesis and faithfulness to Church teaching, and for modeling joy of vocation to young men. We need care of souls. We don’t need their holding dozens of meetings each month to TALK-TALK-TALK. Nice to have input but we all know the Parish Council has no decision making capability anyway; it all stops with the pastor! We don’t need wannabe priestesses lording it over priests and strutting their stuff. They interfere with the priest’s role; they don’t facilitate it. They are barriers, not doorways.

    Stop the “make-work” for priests. Can anybody explain to me why months are spent on “carefully crafted” mission statements for each parish and why each parish has to have a different one? Isn’t “I believe in one God, the Father Almighty…..” etc. enough of a Mission Statement? We can see how all this silly activity exhausts a priest and diminishes his effectiveness, impacting souls including his own. Give me a Holy priest any day, one who is truly a servant of God and a shepherd of souls. Give me one who LOVES to say the Mass, and one who speaks from the heart rather than reading a “purchased” homily. Give me one who spends more time teaching the good news than poring over a balance sheet. Give me one who loves the people and they can love and respect him for his faithfulness, rather than one who pleases the political agenda of the diocese, or tells people what they want to hear.

    The enormity of clustering, planning, closing churches, dispositions, and dealing with the resultant anguish has sidetracked good priests from their purpose and from what originally attracted them to a vocation. Many churches in the area were founded and tended by priests on horseback for Pete’s sake; and those little churches thrived and grew. Now someone can’t drive in an A/C car for 15 miles to say an extra Mass? And new parishes of clustered churches need more new names that nobody can remember anyway? How is that saving souls?

    We need to pay attention too to the damage of rotating priests. There is nothing magic about 6 or 12 years. People pick a parish for its proximity, but they stay for the relationship with the pastor especially. Such rotation, in my opinion, does not serve building a meaningful spiritual relationship with the priest, and disconnects him as well. They do a good job of hiding the pain of leaving where they’ve been for 12 years, but don’t doubt the pain. Then they go off to age without the supportive relationships they’ve built over the years. John Vianney died amongst his flock. Has being “a priest forever” now become optional?

    They business model doesn’t work for the Church, and I say that as a business consultant. It is the cart before the horse. Church doesn’t work BECAUSE the balance sheet is straightened out, or donations cover the expense of too much staff replacing volunteers, or because rich parishioners remember the church in their wills. And it certainly doesn’t thrive by diluting the message from the pulpit. When Church is truly functioning as Christ called it to be, the Holy Spirit will supply the priests, and the “business” of Church will follow. Faithfulness drives the fruitfulness, not the other way around. In my estimation, all the business counsel poured onto a church (especially from out-of-touch aging business elite) only redirects it away from its true goal. Churches close when hierarchy loses faith that indeed the Holy Spirit will provide what is needed to those who are obedient. And when this happens, where will the churches be? Empty shells or sold off as antique shops, banks, offices and for worship by other faiths? Testimonial structures across 12 counties of lack of faith in God’s ability to provide.

    This happens to be what I believe, after 30 years in business planning and management. Downsizing, restructuring, LEM’s, watered down commitment and abandonment may work in business, but not as signs of belief in God’s ability to provide. Why is God once again “the last resource,” to be called on when we finally give up everything else? To quote a noted Protestant Pastor, Rick Warren: don’t ask God to bless what you are doing; instead, do what God is blessing. Quite frankly, I don’t see God blessing the closing of churches AT ALL. And why should he send us priests when we can’t even take care of His properties and holy structures?

    Bruce, you haven’t said anything that hundreds of others haven’t already said. I’m not attacking you. I’m just glad you gave me a chance to speak to the other side.

  40. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:

    Bruce: “To place the laity in positions of power within the Church (i.e., pastors) is akin to placing priests in positions of power in the world (i.e., politicians)”. In Church history there have been men named as cardinals (St Charles Borommeo) while members of the laity and later ordained as priests and many popes who were temporal rulers (see Papal States/ The Vatican).

  41. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    Sorry Annonymous,

    The Eucharist is the FOOD I need if I am ever going to do anything positive as to promote Christ. For without Christ, I am NADA. Food for the journey. Grace, strengthening, getting closer to Christ. I’ll take that every day and if you call it narrow, let it get thinner!

    For from the Eucharist comes everything else associated with Christ. The Eucharist is what separates us from ALL other religions.

    He who eats MY flesh and drinks MY blood has life everlasting.

    Where are you getting the notion everything stops with the Eucharist? The Eucharist is our energy for we become more Christ like after receiving.

    And Bishop Sheen states to priests: If you are nor making a daily hour of adoration in front of the Eucharist, you are failing in your ministre. I would also suggest adoration for everyone, especially those involved in evangelization.

    I may proclaim God’s will by my work but I have to believe priewsts and religious by their nature and calling are primarily responsible for the work of ec=vangelization. We, by our calling have other obligations, as said St Paul, that are not related to evangelization.

  42. avatar annonymouse says:

    Boy, Richard Thomas, you attack the same strawmen that Bruce does!

    Did I EVER say that Eucharist, or Priests, are not NECESSARY? Please show me where I said that!

    In fact, I said that the Sacraments are the foundation. The Eucharist is indeed the lifeblood of the Church. But the Church does NOT begin and end with the Sacraments as both you and Bruce seem to believe – for the Church is to BE sacrament – the living presence of Christ in the world! And that takes each and all of us (for we are ALL, not just priests, the Church) – priests, religious, and lay, working to bring about the Kingdom of God. THAT is indeed, Bruce, a much broader vision (and one that is truer to the teaching of Holy Mother Church).

    This is not an either-or. We need ALL. Christ needs ALL.

    Oh, and sorry to tell you this, Bruce, but (rightly or wrongly) the Church no longer uses the term “Church Militant” – you won’t find that term in the Catechism any more. The Fathers of Vatican II had a bit different view of the role and mission of the Church in the World, apparently.

    Diane – yours should be a separate, new post. It deserves notice and discussion and it deserves not to get lost here in the midst of our incessant bickering.

  43. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    Annonymous,

    I never said the Church ends with the sacraments. But They are so important, like gas in a car. Without it we can do NADA.

    And yes, we can be Christ like but that is not the same as Christ in the Eucharist. As a matter of fact, I can proclaim Christ but it is only Christ’s grace making up for what is lacking in me with my faults, weaknesses, and my predisposition to sin.

    So let’s not call our presence in the world:Sacrament:. There are only 7 of them and we are not sacraments. That definition only denegrates the Eucharist. Let’s say we can be sacrament like…..

    Without the sacraments, we are like any other church, Eucharistic absence. I don’t mean to disrespect the protestant churches but the Eucharist is the centerpiece of the Church. There is a BIG difference between the Sacrament of the Eucharist” and what people describe as the Church being a sacrament. There is a huge difference and in reality the Church is not a sacrament. The living presence of Christ in the world. That is us. But we are not Christ in any way, shape of form. . Only Christ like. It confuses people . I have heard homilies by dissident priests saying the same thing. And the Eucharist ALWAYS gets de-emphasized

  44. avatar Bruce says:

    LOL, Mouse, you’re wrong again!

    John Paul II referred to her as the Church Militant here:
    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_jp-ii_exh_02121984_reconciliatio-et-paenitentia_en.html

    “First of all, it must be emphasized that nothing is more personal and intimate that this sacrament, in which the sinner stands alone before God with his sin, repentance and trust. No one can repent in his place or ask forgiveness in his name. There is a certain solitude of the sinner in his sin, and this can be seen dramatically represented in Cain with sin “crouching at his door,” as the Book of Genesis says so effectively, and with the distinctive mark on his forehead;(190) in David, admonished by the prophet Nathan;(191) or in the prodigal son when he realizes the condition to which he has reduced himself by staying away from his father and decides to return to him.(192) Everything takes place between the individual alone and God. But at the same time one cannot deny the social nature of this sacrament, in which the whole *church-militant*, suffering and glorious in heaven- comes to the aid of the penitent and welcomes him again into her bosom, especially as it was the whole church which had been offended and wounded by his sin.”

    Benedict XVI uses Church Militant here:
    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2011/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20110126_en.html

    “In Jesus, Joan contemplated the whole reality of the Church, the “Church triumphant” of Heaven, as well as the “Church militant” on earth.”

    In addition to the popes, many prelates have used the term consistently since Vatican II.

    Looks like your flat, horizontal church has failed you again, Mouse.

    No need for LEMS. Ban them.

  45. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:

    I am often confused by these discussions so can someone please tell me if “the” Eucharist (or the word Eucharist) can be interchangeable with meaning the living and breathing Jesus Christ Himself truly present??

    Is the priest the only one who can make Christ present in this particular way?? Is Christ present in a “gathering in His name” in the same way??

  46. avatar Bruce says:

    Christ is present Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist – the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

  47. avatar Hopefull says:

    Dear Raymond,

    Jesus Christ is certainly present in each of us who is in a state of grace, and where “2 or 3″ are gathered in his name. He is present in sacred scripture too. But his “Real Presence” only refers to the Eucharist. As Bruce says “Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity” in both the consecrated bread and in the consecrated wine (which is why it is not necessary to receive under both forms.) Eucharist refers to the confected elements of bread and/or wine. No one can confect what is not valid matter to make it Eucharist. And no one who is not an ordained priest can confect anything to be Eucharist. Hence, for most Protestants who argue that their sharing of bread is just a symbol, indeed it is. And it is a mercy of God to protect the souls of those ministers from claiming to do something which they don’t have the power to do.

    Eucharist means “thanksgiving” and by participating in the Eucharist, in a state of grace of course, we give Christ thanksgiving for what He has done for us. Some would argue that Christ can do anything he wants to do, including let somebody break bread and make it Eucharist. Yes, Christ can do whatever he wants, but there is no basis (no reports of Eucharistic miracles for example) to ever claim that anyone other than a priest has confected the Eucharist. And Christ does not contradict himself, or the Church (who can bind/loose) or the Sacred Word. Some have also pointed out that if Jesus reappeared and walked down the aisle on Sunday that He would be no more present than He is in the Eucharist. Does this help?

  48. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    It is awsome that we eat the Eucharist. We digest the Eucharist. We incorporate the Eucharist into ourselves and we become like Christ through the Eucharist. And from Christ comes mans graces!

  49. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:

    I guess I have been having a problem with the word “the” that often goes before the word Eucharist which makes Him sound like an object and might tend to depersonalize Him and also the term “body and blood of Christ” without any indication that HE is alive right there!!!

    Thanks all/ wanted to make sure we were all on the same page!!

    Makes it all the more relevant when we think of closing churches as putting Jesus out on the street with the homeless. The only consolation is that He has had this situation since His birth and can maybe cope better than we can. He has lived with a broken heart since Judas betrayed Him. It also makes me feel strange when I say “I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof” when He doesn’t have one in some places.

  50. avatar annonymouse says:

    Finally, Bruce is right about something. Two popes, out of the thousands of pages they’ve written, mention (once each) the “Church militant” – one in an exhortation and one in a weekly audience. Of course, it does no longer appear in the Catechism, nor in the infallible documents of the Council.

    You got me, Bruce. You’re mistaken about just about everything else, but here you’re finally right. Congratulations. you win

    But you should note that the Fathers of the Council explicitly DROPPED the term from the draft of Lumen Gentium in favor of “Pilgrim Church” which appears in the promulgated document. So while you found two examples of its more recent use, my point stands. It’s an outdated term.

    Fifty years is a long time, Bruce – you really should read the Council’s documents – they’re not optional!

  51. avatar annonymouse says:

    Richard Thomas -

    You, too, ought to actually read what the Church professes. The Council Fathers refer a number of times to the Church as Sacrament. See the very first paragraph, fourth line of Lumen Gentium. Also LG 9. And if that document doesn’t suffice for you, how about this explicit use in Gaudium Et Spes:

    45. While helping the world and receiving many benefits from it, the Church has a single intention: that God’s kingdom may come, and that the salvation of the whole human race may come to pass. For every benefit which the People of God during its earthly pilgrimage can offer to the human family stems from the fact that THE CHURCH IS “THE UNIVERSAL SACRAMENT OF SALVATION”,(24) simultaneously manifesting and exercising the mystery of God’s love. (caps mine)

    The teachings of these documents are non negotiable. I’d suggest you know them.

  52. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    One thing: Please be careful when critisizing people here and elsewhere. There should be no “one upmanship”. And no caustic or sarcastic remarks. And no putting anyone down!

    Annonymous: The quotation is figurative, not literal. If my memory serves me correct: A sacrament is an outward sigh, instituted by Christ to give grace.

  53. avatar Bruce says:

    Quite frankly, Mouse, I’ve not only read the documents of the Second Vatican Council, I’ve written papers on them.

    But I guess I forgot to use my “Spirit of Vatican II” glasses when I read them, because apparently it gives a completely different, and false, view of the Church.

    Muh bad.

  54. avatar annonymouse says:

    Bruce, there’s no need to resort to any “Spirit of Vatican II” when the plain text says what it does. “Spirit of Vatican II” – your words, not mine. All I’ve ever done is cited the actual documents. Good try, though.

  55. avatar Bruce says:

    If it is a fight Catholics want, perhaps I found it. I know I need to start evangelizing those who hate us. This is what St. Francis did – to seek out those who hate us most and preach the Gospel.

    I found a typical front of the culture of death. If it is contraception you want to fight, and women who hate the Church because of her stance on it, start here:

    http://karenknowsbest.com/2012/04/26/and-people-wonder-why-i-hate-organised-religion-so-much/

    I got the ball rolling, and they have predictably hammered me for preaching about Mary and authentic sexuality. Its your turn to help me if you want. These are deeply confused and disturbed women.

  56. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:

    Bruce:

    “I know I need to start evangelizing those who hate us. This is what St. Francis did – to seek out those who hate us most and preach the Gospel. ”

    The largest Christian denomination/group in the United States is the Catholic Church. The second largest group is made up of fallen away Catholics. Instead of going after those who hate us, maybe it is time to be shepherds and go after the strayed sheep, have us “beef” up our numbers, and then go after those who hate us?

  57. avatar Bruce says:

    Ever read St. Francis, Raymond? Read Celano’s biography of him. He purposely sought out those who would treat him worst and who hated Christ the most.

    He even sought martyrdom at the hands of the Muslims.

    Be more like St. Francis and less like a modern Catholic.

  58. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    I heard the sulton, Francic spoke to, was so impressed with him that he converted before he died.

  59. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:

    Bruce: Regarding your comment about being a “modern catholic”. I was thinking about St Francis de Sales who, following the Protestant reformation, was sent by the pope to convert the Protestant cantons of Switzerland which had fallen away from the church. In just a few years , using warm, empathic, and sensitive preaching he returned most of them to the Church. He is the one who coined the phrase that more insects are caught with honey than with vinegar. I guess he was “modern” in his approach.

  60. avatar Bruce says:

    Note how the Protestants are still around.

    The Mendicants mission was to fight the Cathars. How many of them have you run into lately.

    The time for “warm, empathetic, and sensitive” preaching is over. The secular world hates us so much they would rather watch us die than allow us to go on.

    Warm, empathetic, and sensitive got us into this mess.

  61. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:

    Bruce:
    “The Mendicants mission was to fight the Cathars. How many of them have you run into lately.”

    You are correct. There are not many Cathars around today. The final solution often used by the mendicants to dispose of the stubborn Cathars was burning. Dominic and the rosary took care of the remainders by loving and forgiving as well as intelligent preaching. Francis de Sales did not do this burning so he ended up with redeemed reconverted Catholics. Anyone knows that the most militant Catholics are often the converts. Francis and Dominic had convicted converts; a lot of the the mendicants had Cathar ashes and people practising their faith in secret.

    “The time for “warm, empathetic, and sensitive” preaching is over.” Sorry, but now is the time for it to begin.

  62. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:

    Annonymous:

    “The Church is, and needs to be, the very presence of Jesus Christ in the world.”

    I was at a church supper at the Baptist Church in Clifton Springs last weekend and in the sanctuary they had this sign: “Jesus was conceived in love, He lived and preached love during his life, and He died witnessing to love,BUT He rose from the dead in silence and expects US to continue the song of love!!

  63. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:

    Bruce:

    As one of the ancient popes said to a fiery and radical preacher in the mother tongue of the Most Holy Mother the Church:
    Esne tuas braccas quoque angustas??

  64. avatar Bruce says:

    Ray Ray,

    St. Francis was very VERY hard on sin – especially sexual sin – and ceaselessly preached penance.

    St. John Chrysostom was a fiery preacher, not one to mince words.

    St. Paul was also not the “sensitive, warm type” for the vast majority of his career.

    Namby pamby warmy sensy crap is what has the DOR in the shape its in. You can keep it.

  65. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:

    Bruce:

    Thank you for your comments. Keep me posted. In about 5 years let me know the status of your converts and what method they responded to. You don’t have to write a lot; the status of two of the four is enough to convince me.

  66. avatar Bruce says:

    I haven’t needed years, Ray, I’ve only needed a few months. You see, I don’t rely on myself – that would be foolish. The Holy Spirit does the work of converting, not I. The words I speak are not my own, for they would have no power. They might sound harsh and offensive to you, but that only means they are not meant for you. God has another pathway for you. For me, and for those who listen to me, this is our path to the narrow way.

    As I said, you can keep your sensitive and warm preaching. I will keep my fire. God works in more than one way.

  67. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    I wonder if there are any priests who can preach the true gospel on sexual ethics in a warm and compassionate way.

    We, as in many other places, have been victimized by priests who preach an “anything goes” philosophy warm and compassionately, or preach without mentioning sexual sins in a warm and fuzzy way.

    And most of us can faithfully say we have heard too few priests preach about sexual ethics so the notion of doing it warm and compassionately does not hold.

  68. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:

    Bruce: I think your last response was good and wise. I guess that you sometimes have to have a steel fist in a velvet glove!!

  69. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    I remember a story about Henry VIII and the beginning of the English Reformation. Now this could all be simply made up. Queen Catherine had a private chapel and during mass in the height of the issue of the royal divorce, a Spanish priest preached about Henry’s sinfulness and did it in a fore and brimstone. Henry, hearing about it, became enraged. Supposidly, that tipped him over the edge and “You know history”.

  70. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:

    All:
    I think we have to take into consideration the format that the priest is using to get the gospel to the people. Some things can be handled from the pulpit but we also have to consider what and how the message is getting across in a private counseling or conference session. I often think of Jesus writing in the sand when confronted by the woman caught in adultery. Just a thought.

  71. avatar Bruce says:

    And sometimes Jesus spoke in the Temple and on the Mound as well.

    Its not either/or – its both/and – and that goes for everything. Church teaching on, say sexuality, needs to be both from the pulpit and in private. Not just in private. Doesn’t work.

  72. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:

    Bruce:

    It might be well to clearly state the norms from the pupit and use the confessional to help the penitent implement the teachings. The problem today is that not much is coming from the pulpits and few go to confession privately, most opting for a “ballpark” type general penance service or the penitential portion at the beginning of the Mass.
    And what has happened to the field of spirtual direction?? I know of few saints, if any at all, who did not have a spiritual director for themselves personally or for their community..

  73. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    I would love to see a priest give a homily on birth control and NFP and bring the NFP teachers into church for the mass. Then, since most parishes have a “coffee hour” after mass, have the NFP teachers be present to answer questions for any interested parishoners

  74. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:

    Richard Thomas:
    “Then, since most parishes have a “coffee hour” after mass, have the NFP teachers be present to answer questions for any interested parishoners.”

    Why not include some medical personnel to explain the impact that these birth control pills, plastic medicine-saturated implants, and abortion producing drugs can have on the long term health of the woman and possibly any susequent children they may wish to have.

  75. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    Ray,
    That’s a great idea. It would be nice to identify all the NFP teachers in the diocese. Dr. Stephen Spaudling in Horseheads is a NFP only physician and has a nurse practitioner who gives the courses.

    The Catholic Physicians Guild promoted it but sadly, they were suppressed by the bishop

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