In the next 20 years, this sort of Catholic will become extinct. As America descends further into decadence and decline, the lines will be drawn between the forces of darkness and the forces of light. People will have to choose whether to serve God and His Church or the dark side. Catholics will have to choose to be fully committed or not. If they choose to be Catholic, let them be informed and involved and integrated. If they choose to leave the Church, then they should be honest and stop referring to themselves as Catholic.
I hope so. I often think this is true, though sometimes I doubt it. Evil has the curious ability of adapting itself to any set of circumstances, and we are currently suffering from the boiled frog effect. People will float aimlessly in the rising heat until they die or are pulled out of the water.
Seems to me that the only solution will be the restoration of discipline within the Church. Our hope is in the new clerglymen, like Father Newman, who will stand for none of the nonsense. When the bishops and priests are a united front against the onslaught, then things will really change.
Ckick of the heels to Charlie.
So, I have a question. From a salvation standpoint, is one better off staying in the Catholic Church even if they’re a lame Catholic ( the referred article says these Catholics are just ignorant) or a defiant Catholic (the referred article says these Catholics feel it’s noble to defy the Church) … or is that person better off from a salvation standpoint if they leave the Church for another Church?? I always wondered that. At times I want to say to friends/family that they need to decide what it is that makes them want to continue to be called a Catholic when they don’t seem to respect or follow major tenets of the Faith. I almost want to ask them to please do us all a favor and leave … but I don’t. Partially because I’m a wimp and partially because I’m afraid that I could be held responsible for damning them if they are indeed better off still being an unfaithful Catholic over a faithful protestant or faithful agnostic!
There is no salvation outside of the Catholic Church – that is a dogma of the faith. So at least a bad Catholic can be shown the error of his ways and go to confession. But once he leaves, the chances are that he will not see the need for any sacraments and thereby die outside of the Church and be lost. The other “faiths” make one much more comfortable with Sin, even if they recognize it at all, so why would one want to go back to that “judgemental” Church when one can go elsewhere and feel good about almost anything that one wants to do?
I just finished reading this account myself.
I go back and forth as you do on this (between ioptimism & pessimism). Evil does have a way of adapting. I used to think that liberalism (in the ecclesial sense) had no means of reproducing as orthodoxy does. But I was wrong, it reproduces in the seminaries and universities. From where I come… if a priest wrote something like that in the bulletin… he would not be dealing with AP in a millisecond… but rather the chancery in a nanosecond.
We must thank God for brave men like this. And we must ask that we too can have courage as this good priest did.
Pascendi – I differ with you on one small point. Evil does not reproduce; that would infer an increase in something real. Rather, evil subtracts from the positive good that is there. Evils actions leave a void at an ever greater level as Truth and Grace are diminished.
This is perhaps a subtle distinction, but an important one since the only way to get rid of evil is the acceptance of all that is True, Good and Beautiful within the Church and the faithful. And since all Grace comes from Our Lady and she represents and exemplifies all that is True, Good and Beautiful, then it follows that evil will be eliminated to the degree that Our Lady is accepted back into the lives of the faithful. Furthermore, this is how real conversion will occur amongst the faithless and heretical.
Here’s a link to Fr. Euteneuer’s newsletter from yesterday, in the same line of what Fr. Angelo is saying- here’s the beginning.
Spirit & Life®
Volume 03, Number 42 | Friday, November 21, 2008
Election Part II – Catholic Culture and the Election of Barack Obama
It is impossible to speak of a “Catholic culture” in America any longer. A whole segment of the populace who call themselves “Catholics” do not feel bound by any standard of Catholic orthodoxy or sanity. In fact, it is impossible to even speak of a Catholic culture in most parishes!…….
There is, however, great hope for the future because the battle has already been engaged: new Catholic colleges are springing up to replace the old decrepit houses of heresy, new religious orders with abundant vocations and orthodoxy have arisen, home schooling families and strong lay movements are abundant now. Only when we take back our beloved Church from the false Catholics and clerics will our Church be able to stand up and rebuke the storm winds of paganism that are building faster than we care to admit. This project is not without its price, however. The cost of being a true believer will undoubtedly be much higher than ever before in our lifetime. Starting now and into the next generation we as Catholics will have to show the world not only what we believe but that we are willing to lay down our lives for it as a witness to the truth.
But I recall our Late Pope saying that people in other religions (including Jews) can go to heaven. Granted, the mansion has many rooms and some might get larger rooms. It’s hard to imagine that some of the evangelicals I know won’t go to heaven when they’re far more committed to Christ and a holy life than half the Catholics I know.
Now, maybe the point Knight Errant is making is that if someone starts in the Catholic Faith and then leaves it for another, he’d have been better off as a lousy Catholic than a great Protestant. But, I doubt it’s the same for someone who was born into another religion. Even Jehovah Witnesses I know can be completely convinced of their religion (though deceived, as we see it) …. ??????
I’ve struggled with this teaching too, so please Father correct me if I’m wrong, but I seem to remember it being something like, there’s no way for a Catholic to achieve salvation outside of the Catholic Church. That doesn’t mean that people outside the Faith are incapable of attaining Heaven, but it does mean that Catholics are unable to do this. Because when you die, your soul will enter into judgement with the indelible mark of Baptism, and will be judged according to the Catholic Faith from your Baptism, whether you lived that Faith or not.
As far as the whole “real” vs. “fake”Catholic thing, I think this is a misnomer. We’re all Catholics, again due to our Baptism in the Faith. Our actions can either be good or bad in building or destroying the kingdom here on earth. And we will be judged accordingly as to how we did on this test at the end of our time. But it’s like the Star Wars thing: either we can use our force for the good (Jedi Council) or for the bad (Sith Lord).
PS Father, did you see the article I posted on Father Newman under “Fashionable Facism”? I thought it would interest you in that it writes on a similar vein.
Important issues and questions.
When a Catholic has lost their faith, they are out at sea. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews11:6). Even more so for someone who had it and then lost it. In reality no one looses their faith. It doesn’t fall out of one’s pocket or purse. It only disappears through someone’s fault. Sometimes people who have been poorly catechized really never had the faith. In any case there is plenty of scandal and misinformation to confuse and frustrate the propagation of the faith.
Deliberate rejection of any article of faith is the death knell. This is why someone who obstinately sins against faith is a heretic and thus separates himself from the Body of Christ. We are all sinners, and plenty of Catholics, unfortunately, are more often than not living in the state of sin. In general it is better for a person to remain within the Church in spite of their sinfulness, but rejection of the teaching of the Church is already a separation. That is why Father Longenecker says it is better for such people to do the honest thing and move along.
I would just clarify that some people have these wayward and rebellious ways because they have had wayward and rebellious priests, religious and catechists forming them. I would suggest a grace period for such people. A good pastor needs to try to win them over through persistence and charity, but at some point discipline needs to be restored.
The Church’s teaching is indeed that there is no salvation outside the Church. This is also tricky business. The dogma of extra ecclesia nulla salus is pretty exclusive and absolute in its formulation. Certain Traditionalists are at war with Rome over the softening of the doctrine.
Extrapolating from St. Thomas Aquinas, the modern magisterium has posited the possibility of Baptism by “desire,” that is, Baptism without water for, not only catechumens who explicitly desire the Sacrament, but also for pagans who have little or no knowledge of the Christ, but who earnestly seek the truth about God.
The problem is that the progressives have concluded that everyone of good will who is seeking God without knowledge of Christ is a “Anonymous Christian.” St. Thomas was certainly not suggesting that every pagan of good will was walking around a Christian without knowing it. His suggestion of Baptism of desire was to answer the question about what happens to a person who is preparing for Baptism but dies before the Sacrament is administered.
In affect, where Baptism of desire is interpreted and taught as part of the soft and fuzzy evangelism so characteristic of modern catechesis, the net result is the belief that virtually everyone goes to heaven and there is no real need to evangelize as though our salvation depended on it. This is the suicide of evangelical and missionary Catholicism. Frankly, it is the death of the faith, period.
In any case, the CCC (1258-1261) teaches what it teaches. I just think that it is important to remember that the Sacrament of Baptism is a sign and guarantee of the promised grace of justification. Without the sign of the washing of water determined by the trinitarian formula, there is no guarantee. No one knows if and when Baptism by desire occurs. There is no guarantee. No confirmation.
We know that God creates no one for hell and no one goes there except through their own fault. But this truth does not vitiate the necessity of Baptism by water or of full communion with the Roman Catholic Church, or the necessity for the Church to evangelize. We are not in a position to judge, but we may assume that souls are lost when we fail to do the work of the Church.
Fallen away Catholics, in particular are in a tough position.
Patty et al.,
Yes, I saw it.
Going back to our discussion about the survival or attrition of evil, I would say there are definite signs of hope. I really find it hard to imagine why anyone would be interested in the Catholic faith if they did not believe it it.
Here we are back under the cloud of conspiracy and bad will. I don’t know. However, self-deception is a tool Satan uses like a laser scalpel. He can cut out our heart without our feeling a thing.
My real hope is the new clergy. One of the most important factors in all this is the priestly fraternity. Not only because the priests are the leaders, but because the fraternity, good or bad, is a form of peer pressure. In the end, I really don’t think most men want to willingly enter into a life of hypocrisy or to live a life of celibacy when they don’t really believe in anything. I think this is especially true now that the silly optimism of the 60’s has finally worn off.
A much larger number of new seminarians are really serious and determined. It seems that seminaries are improving. Whether this is a trend that continues remains to be seen. In any case, IMO war against the tide of compromise will have to be declared and the troops sent forth. We can’t beat around the bush forever.
Thanks Father for that thorough answer, you have revealed a lot to me.
My husband, Mike, says that in the history of the Church dating back to the first “conciliar” days, it always seemed to take a period of approx. 50 years for the teaching of that council to take root in the body of the Church. I would be willing to guess that the tarnish we’ve seen these past 50 years have been a result of the Conciliar recognition of Vatican II, whether indirect or not, and also whether purpoted or not. In studying various documents from this council myself, I was more surprised that I found little of the teachings of the Church had changed, as I was taught such radical proposals from various sources. I shouldn’t feed the flames, but I feel that a lot of people in positions of leadership and teaching authority took advantage of innocence and ignorance of Vatican II to push their own agenda.
But I do have to agree with you about seminarians. Mike introduced me to several seminarians in Boston at St. John’s Seminary. Never have I been so impressed by the calibre of a man then being face to face with some of our nation’s future priests! Their spiritual depth, their zeal for the Lord, and their great humility and obedience to the Magisterial teachings was incredible. It is the younger priests and bishops who took the call this past November’s election to head the way for life. That does show promise…along with the potential flock of priest-lings I could be raising.
My husband is also a great one for his famous “bumper sticker theology”. He probably never would sit through “theology on tap”, but might be more interested if it became a tailgate party 🙂 He shared one the other day which relates to your former post, Father: “If you go to Heaven it’s by God’s grace, but if you go to Hell it’s your own damn fault.”
I really think he chose the wrong profession 🙂
Thank you Father – nice clarification.
I view “extra ecclesia nulla salus” (which MUST be accepted by all who call themselves Catholic) as meaning that all will be judged as members of the true Church. All who are validly baptized fall into that category.
So can a “good” protestant be saved? In theory it is possible, as long as they have never committed a mortal sin, as they do not accept sacramental confession. And although they may not have intent to commit sin through lack of formation about what is or is not sinful, for most adults it there is significant mental gymnastics involved with believing this for too long.
Rather it is much safer to assume the more rigid definition and do our best to try and convert our separated brethren (what is the female version of that word?). What we do know is how we can be saved and what we need to do to save our own souls. And to assume that this applies to all is the safest bet. It would better to be pleasantly surprised than to get a terrible shock when there is no time to reverse our position!
Thank you everyone for the wonderful discussion. I finally got a few moments of QUIET in the house (ha) to actually comprehend all that was written. I think Father’s descriptions of having charity with Catholics who ‘have wayward and rebellious ways because they had wayward and rebellious priests’ is something we all need to think about. Some people have also had wayward and rebellious parents and went to Catholic schools with wayward and rebellious teachers. Only God knows what truly went on to make someone rebel as they do! We see the end result in most people and not what got them to that end result.
I also think the discussion on baptism clarifies things … let’s face it, if someone is born in east-ubangi in the forest, banging on drums (I say this light-heartedly), he/she may never have heard of God, Jesus, Mary, etc. It’s hard to imagine that God, who created these people, would say, “Your tough luck … you were born in an area where I was never discussed. There’s no salvation for any of you.” That really just makes no sense to me … I used to get in this argument with fundamentalists all the time. And yet, you have to be careful not to go the other way and decide that EVERYONE is saved. Because of this, I also struggle with the Protestants and Catholics who have left the fold. To whom much is given, much is expected … but many people aren’t given that much!
I think this is where WE might be held accountable. Did we present an ugly picture of the Church that causes people to run from it? Do people meet us and say, “I want the joy and peace they have” or do people say, “Look at these miserable, rigid people … they have no fun, they’re bizarre, no one can relate to them … I do NOT want what they have” ? I do not say this with my finger pointed at anyone else … I can point it just as easily at myself, quite honestly. I do think this is where evangelical/fundamentalists have it all over us. They attract people with their fun and friendly ways and then minister to them once they are attending the church. We do not do that, by and large.
Another thing I notice is that most people are ministered by and entertained by the television … bleh. However, what do they see when they flip through the channels? What attracts them? Well, you’ve got Ellen Degeneres, Seinfeld and Oprah. We all know about Oprah so let’s look at Ellen and Seinfeld. I’ve watched the Ellen show 2ce just to see what she’s about. You know what? She’s very funny. She also seems like a genuinely nice person. THAT’S what people see … funny and nice. Therefore, they’re willing to overlook her lifestyle choices. I will admit (shame on me) to have watched MANY Seinfeld shows. Some are definitely crude. But, by and large, I will admit to having laughed my guts out. Now, I LOVE EWTN for the most part and it’s usually the channel I watch if I sit at the tube, but I wouldn’t consider any of the shows to be ‘funny’ or truly entertaining. I realize they operate on a very different budget than ABC, NBC and CBS. But, I doubt it attracts that wayward and rebellious Catholic.
Maybe I’m way off base here. (It won’t be the first time.) But this is what I keep feeling like God is calling us Catholics to do … I feel He’s calling us to be approachable … to lead others to that green pasture that they don’t see. We need to have Christ’s joy bleeding through us. This is what also makes me shut my mouth when I’m tempted to ask the wayward Catholics I know to please just do us all a favor and leave.
Well, it’s not quiet here anymore and I can barely concentrate! Probably made little sense towards the end. sigh.
I was a huge Seinfeld fan when the show was out too. “No soup for you!”
I used to be very intimidated when coming to the Friary, but over time I came to see that the obstacles I created were in my heart and not those in attendance with me. It was my own hard-heartedness that created barriers for the graces God was trying to give me. I think the key is to be genuine, as I don’t know of anyone in our homeschooling circle who is otherwise. Sometimes there’s a need for sugar-coating, but there are other times when two by four spirituality is the only way to get through. As the spirit calls, we should be in a genuine place and relationship with Him to respond.
Protestant Churches have always had one up on us as far as fellowship is concerned. But I’ve come to realize that our fellowship as Catholics is much deeper than the traditional “coffee hour”. We are a community of saints here as the Church Militant. We may not come across and fuzzy touchy feely types, but we are united together in prayers and the Sacraments. It’s like comparing the newlyweds to the couple that’s been married for 15 years. When I first got married I would look at these couples and think they must have a sad life for when in public, these people would barely talk or look at each other, and there was never any hand-holding etc. But as I grew in my marriage I came to understand that the marital bond between a couple married for a significant amount of time was deeper and truer than the flash in the pan love of the newlyweds. Its the same for our Faith. What continues to attract me the most to members of my Church are their consistent witness to the Truth. If I am intimidated now, I know it’s because of my own shortcomings, and not necessarily theirs.
I agree with you … as for my first impression of the Friary and as to the deep relationship that many Catholics have! I sometimes tell the story of how the first time I came to the Friary with my older son, I felt like I stepped into a time-warp. I felt like a fish out of water, quite honestly. I thought my older son, who has some issues, was going to rip me a big one when we left … the Mass had Latin hymns in it and I remember going up for Communion and seeing the altar rail and receiving on the tongue and saying to my son, “AHHHH … quick lesson!” But, when we left Mass, my innocent son (3rd grade at the time) said, “Mom … I really liked the Mass here. I felt like it was more holy and I liked receiving Communion on my tongue. Can we come here again?” I nearly passed out. If it had been up to me, I’d have never come back. Thank God for my son … we came back. The rest is history, so they say.
I guess my point is (and maybe this is unique to how i feel God calling me as opposed to how others are being called) but I feel especially called to evangelize the Evangelicals as well as to evangelize the lukewarm Catholics or the Catholics who stopped attending Mass. I feel like there needs to be an initial attraction somehow … I feel like our society is so drawn to ‘entertainment’. I realize that we cannot compromise our Church to being a sideshow and i’m not suggesting that.
I guess that’s why the “Passion” was so successful … it was accurate and yet it had modern-day cinematography and acting. People were attracted to it whether they ultimately liked the message or not and many lukewarm Christians were, atleast temporarily, reignited. I think the media needs to do more. I’m not claiming to have Mother Angelica’s visions and I certainly think she’s done an outstanding job. I think EWTN ministers to Catholics and occasionally you hear about “Journey Home” ministering to others but otherwise, the lukewarm Catholics I know wouldn’t turn it on if their lives depended upon it. This is where I grapple … what will reach them? There’s a huge number of them in America … how do we reach them?
Oh well, I guess I won’t get my answer this week! 🙂 That’s okay … I’ll keep praying.
Blessings to you all for Thanksgiving.
but otherwise, the lukewarm Catholics I know wouldn’t turn it on if their lives depended upon it…..
Actually Jen, their lives (eternal) DO depend on it….
Knight Errant … I made a pun without even realizing it! Yes, indeed, their eternal lives DO depend it. But, EWTN turns them off for some reason and I think a good part of it is due to the low-budget luster and older (60’s) movies they show that don’t appeal to many people under the age of 50. I personally LOVE hearing Fr. Corapi, Fr. Groeschel, Mother Angelica Classics and even Raymond Arroyo, Life on the Rock (when I don’t have orchestra), etc. But these shows probably appeal to the already-converted. (Not that we don’t need to be fed because we do!)
You know, maybe it’s always been this way. Maybe once you’ve truly converted to Christ, you really aren’t going to appeal to other people anymore. People have to be seeking Him and that’s when they find you otherwise maybe there’s really little you can do to *get their attention*. I think down deep I know this but I have too many people I love whose souls I’m concerned for and so I just don’t want to accept that there’s not some *angle* that i’m missing.
Jen – I think you’ve hit on it. Faith is one of the theological virtues and is a gift from God – we cannot merit it.
But we have to be predisposed to accept the gift. Planting the seed of guilt and doubt and conscience-pricking etc helps with that predisposition, but ultimately it is a choice – an act of will that we decide either to seek God or not. As you have observed, there is very little we can do after we do all the “conscience-pricking” that is prudent in each case. The we have recourse to prayer. And I have observed personally some really miraculous conversions after many years of apparently fruitless prayer.
I’m a convert to the Faith myself. Do you know what brought me in?
I mean that literally. The very first time I walked through the doors of the Cathedral, God’s grace in the tabernacle penetrated my heart, and I haven’t been the same since. Within three months of that first “entrance” into the Church, I became a Catholic. Did I cerebralize it at that point? no. Did the Catholics who were with me help? A little. It was mostly God’s grace, and God’s true presence that I felt that brought me home. I’ve shared this experience with many other converts and they all say the same thing, they shared that face to face encounter with Christ Himself, and couldn’t resist.
As far as the evangelicals, I am very encouraged. I’ve done very little to evangelize to them, as they’re doing it all themselves! That’s right! The more they study and adhere to the Faith, the more they are modeling themselves after none other than…you guessed it…the Catholic Church. It’s a beautiful thing. And God is making it so easy for this crippled lamb (or should I say lame?) He’s just giving me the patience to wait for the right “moment” to point this out to my fellow Christians. “Hey, did you know that all you’re pursuing we already have in the Church?” It’s a great “Scott Hahn” moment that I’m waiting for!
I worked my entire high school career in youth ministry. We did the lights the bands the flash, etc, etc, etc. But you know what brought the teens to their knees? The procession of the Blessed Sacrament! I can totally relate! It’s a point of immense grace to see that incredible image of the simplest form of bread containing the most magnificent God. And He came to see us! Rock on! The most hard-hearted teen, the most fallen away Catholic, the most tepid of souls, would be on their knees sobbing. What an awesome moment. We don’t have to evangelize so much as Catholics as we are meant to “magnificate” if I’m allowed to invent the expression. The Church, the Eucharist, the Truth, they’re all here, all we have to do is reverence and give thanks. Thanks be to God for the simple instructions (and the lifelong chance to comply:)
Oops, Freudian slip there. I meant that the more Evangelicals adhere to the Scriptures…Sorry!
Jen, just a little note regarding EWTN. I was channel surfing while nursing a baby one day….looking for a soap opera, game show, talk show to watch. I stopped on Mother Angelica and listened. That was about 14 years ago, and another jump start I needed for conversion. EWTN was what I really needed to bring me back to the Faith and encourage me to learn. Thank you, God.
Nancy … I’m SO glad to hear that! I surely hope that could be the case. I have just tried to tell Catholics I know about certain programs on EWTN that I think are worth watching and I get eye-rolling and negative comments all the way. So, it made me think that the channel isn’t reaching anyone but the already converted. I am happy to admit being wrong here if that’s the case! It would be good news indeed.
Patty & KE, Thank you for your thoughtful responses. I’m very blessed to *know* all of you. 😉
Yep, that’s the truth. One other thing…not long after I started watching Mother Angelica and the EWTN shows, I happened to travel to Atlanta, GA to put my older children on a plane to send them back to live with their father. It was a terrible time for me. I was leaving the airport, and off to the side…somewhat hidden…was Mother Angelica. My little Sara who was about 3 at the time recognized her and ran up to her. Mother was wearing her braces. She and a couple of people were waiting for a guest to arrive. Anyway, she gave me such a beautiful smile that I will never forget. It was balm for my breaking heart. There was a beautiful peace about her.
Talk about faith journeys! I used to despise Mother Angelica. Well…Because I was God and she wasn’t! Boy how times have changed (as I don’t believe I’m God anymore:) She really is a beautiful soul, and I’m glad to have read her biography (Raymond Arroyo version). We need more strong witnesses to the Faith to help those calloused hearts (mine included) to jostle us out of the throne to give it over to the True King…
I guess the point is that people are going to either accept or reject the Truth based on where they are at in life. We can only be the sower of seed, and we are called to present the Truth (or the seed) in the best way possible. We can’t necessaily help where it lands. It’s a scary proposition, until we remember that God is in charge. And as stewards, we know that He is in the managment of us, and not the other way around. We have to invest in the best seed possible, and share it with all.
Please pray for me? I’m debating with a bunch of moral relativists about “same sex marriage”.