was a time when Catholics
knew and recognized Jesus Christ.
That it is no longer
so is deeply revealing. It
reveals a spiritual malaise that
is the result of a lack of example,
and a systemic failure so deep,
so broad, and so prevalent, that
our children no longer see God ...
and neither do we.
What will suffice for proof? Perhaps
a casual glance in the direction
of the Most Blessed
Sacrament of the Altar
is a pretty good indication.
How many people walk past God (Jesus
Christ, really and truly present
in the Tabernacle, Body, Blood,
Soul, and Divinity) without so much
as a nod, let alone a genuflection?
Indeed, how many even know
that He is there? How many recognize
Few. Very few, indeed. Why is this?
Why do so many people identify themselves
as Catholics without knowing
where God is and, in fact,
Who God is?
Who will dispute it? Ask a dozen
Catholics leaving Mass the following
elementary questions about
what is most fundamental and
central to Catholic belief
as uniquely distinguishable that
is to say, simple tenets that distinguish
Catholicism from other and incompatible
the Son (Jesus)?
the Holy Ghost?
In the Eucharist?
In the Tabernacle?
In all three
We are present at the Crucifixion
of Christ on Calvary
We gather at the Table of
We eat Jesus flesh and drink
His blood, literally.
We primarily engage in a
All of the above.
None of the above.
Just two of the above.
(If you , too, are really
uncertain, go to the bottom
of the page)
The answers that you most likely
will receive will range from stunning
ignorance to patent heresy (and
yes, the notion of heresy
still obtains, ecumenism notwithstanding,
not only in Catholicism but in Judaism.)
Those whom you had asked had just
left Mass some, after many, many
years and had no clue about the
most basic features of their faith.
Why is this? How can this be?
The answer is surprisingly simple:
it has been a failure in Catechesis,
a catastrophic failure
in teaching the most fundamental
doctrines of our faith as Catholics
to our children just as they
failed who had taught us!
That is to say, it is the result
of not one, but two entire generations
that have failed and failed miserably
in handing on, transmitting to
future generations, the Faith of
our fathers, the authentic teachings
of Holy Mother Church.
The Buck Stops Here
President Harry S. Truman kept a
sign on his desk for which he is
famous, and it was a daily reminder
to him that, as President of the
American people and as the representative
of "their" interests apart from
the conflict of interests that plagued
and continue to plague the House
and the Senate ... the responsibility
was ultimately his. The buck was
always passed from the special interest
groups to the Representatives who
passed the responsibility off to
the Senate which in turn passed
the buck on to Truman. He
alone took the responsibility, and
with it he took the heat. Perhaps
that is provenance of his other
famous quotation, "If you can't
stand the heat, keep out of the
Truman was from Missouri, and if
you are an American, you understand
what this means. "I'm from Missouri"
is synonymous with, "Show it! I
am skeptical ...prove it!"
None of the Cardinals of the Archdiocese
of Boston were from Missouri ...
O'Malley is from Ohio, Law was from
Mexico, and Medeiros from the Azores.
That stubborn practicality and low
tolerance for equivocation, together
with the keen sense of responsibility
to his office and to the American
people ... to make the decisions
that no one else was willing to
make, and to accept their consequences
- largely characterized the person
and the Presidency of Truman ...
much in the way that the absence
of these qualities and attributes
have notoriously characterized the
Episcopacy of Boston. Not one of
them, in any manner of speaking,
were from Missouri ...
The point of this brief digression
is that Catechesis has failed miserably
largely because our
Bishops have defaulted
on their primary responsibility
as Teachers of the Faith. They are
largely involved in more pressing
functionary issues: things
administrative, social, legal
(especially here in Boston, and
elsewhere ...) public relations,
photo ops, etc., and appear to have
no time, or simply lack the dedication
or the inclination to bring us,
or failing that, ensuring that we
are brought, the authentic Faith
of our Fathers ... and are unwilling
to accept their responsibility for
it. There are, after all, numberless
"committees" to deal with such "lesser"
things ... many and many an eager
committee to relegate this tiresome
Is it really any wonder that so
many Priest have adopted as their
model of pastoral leadership the
role of Master of Ceremonies
at Mass, and mere advisors
to the lay leadership in
their parishes rather than that
of the preacher, pastor and prophet?
From whom did they learn such irresponsible
behavior? They have taken their
cue from their Bishops, whose poor
example they sadly but brilliantly
emulate. Make no decisions "ex
meru motu"*, but form committees
to make the decisions for you
and if they do not pan out, no one
can lay the responsibility at your
doorstep. In fact, you were, in
a Trumanesque sense, out of the
kitchen at the time ... so to speak.
For a scandalously preponderant
number of bishops, here and abroad,
the Episcopacy appears to be more
a matter of the promotion of their
personality, and good copy for the
press ... rather than enacting their
primary role as "Teacher
of the Faith" and in ensuring the
proper teaching of the Faith; the
dignity and responsibility for their
office is so often reduced to a
perfunctory stamp of approval on
some issue or other with which they
are only remotely acquainted, but
which is, for the moment, highly
visible and publicly in favor. In
a word, it redounds to their notability
and good name ... both of
which, deservedly, have taken a
rather bad drubbing of late.
Instead of delegating what are essentially
peripheral issues to other ecclesiastics
and enacting the primary role in
which they are presumably most competent,
they have relinquished the greater
for the lesser. We could charitably
attribute it to mere indolence,
or even incompetence, did it not
verge on culpable neglect in their
having entrusted it
to those unworthy of it,
to so many who manipulate, distort
and often entirely expunge the genuine
teachings of the Church to conform
to their own largely social agenda.
They, in turn, pass this distorted
doctrine on to our children
with the Bishop's rubber stamp
of approval which they hold, and
which came with the job. After all,
were they not "hired" by him? Surely,
then, he knows what they are teaching.
Or does he? It is frightening either
way. If he does, then he is complicit
in the fraud. If he does not, he
is guilty of inexcusable neglect.
His "job title", after all, is "Teacher
of the Faith."
Everyone Wins but the Kids
How often a job not to our liking
is palmed off to someone else, and
washing our hands of it, we gladly
forget the unsavory matter. If it
prospers we take the praise, and
if it fails we plead ignorance.
It is a win-win situation.
Except for the children.
For them it is a
They never come to know Christ.
So what do we walk away with?
Parents, be very clear
about this: if you
do not bring Christ to your children,
it is extremely unlikely that
We are too quick to surrender this
responsibility, which is really
a blessed gift ... the gift
of Faith that will carry our
children through so many difficulties
in life ... long after we are gone.
It is a patrimony to generations
beyond us, a sacred trust that we
cannot entrust to another:
not your son's or your daughter's
CCD teacher (who probably knows
far less than you do), not your
parish priest through his cute and
irrelevant homilies punctuated by
jokes and laughter, and not, sadly
to say, to your bishop. In fact,
if you write your bishop in your
growing concern about the laxity
in your parish, you will, in all
likelihood, receive no reply ...
or a "Document Template" from Microsoft
Word with the blank spaces appropriately
filled in. Been there, done that.
In all fairness, of the two scenarios
offered, it is very likely that
your bishop is clueless
of what is being taught under his
auspices and it is as equally
likely that he really does not
wish to know more, and
could not appear to care less. This,
of course, is the best scenario.
The worst is that he does know.
Most parents are familiar with the
scenario: pay CCD (the Religious
Education Office in your parish)
to pass out books that are never
opened, solicit "teachers" who are
as ill-informed as their students,
hire a Director of Religious Education
(DRE) irrespective of a genuine
commitment to authentic Catholic
Doctrine and it is a fait
accompli! The Gospel is preached!
The ignorant are enlightened. The
children are taught. Process them
through to Confirmation regardless
of their complete ignorance of the
Faith, kiss them off, and tell yourself
that you have done a magnificent
job! Just look at the Confirmation
lines! "What a testimony", the auxiliary
bishop who comes to Confirm them
will tell you, "to the vibrancy
of your "faith community",
as the Church is most often called
in these times of doctrinal indifference
and ecumenical correctitude. Indeed
Do not, however, look at the dwindling
numbers: in the pews, in the Priesthood,
in Religious life, in successful
marriages, in chaste lives free
from the misdirection of a perverse,
and increasingly homocentric society.
And do not tabulate the divorce
rate, or the number of abortions
that verge on exceeding the number
of baptisms. Pretend that the sexual
abuse of our children has no correlation
with the number of homosexual priests
knowingly ordained, and that their
predatory pederasty has nothing
at all to do with their being homosexual
that it is just a coincidence
that the abused have been, with
few exceptions, boys. Just a disturbing
and terribly repetitive coincidence
The effects of the longstanding
negligence of our bishops have been
far-reaching ... to even the smallest
The frightening question, really,
is this: not, "Who will teach our
children better?" but this:
"Who will teach our Bishops
Indeed ... who?
have great hope in Pope Benedict
XVI who calls to account the Pastors
who have fled the flock ... or preyed
upon them. This is, we believe,
the face of responsibility that
we been longing for, the voice seeking
accountability and demanding correction.
is a voice from Missouri ... with
a gentle German accent ...
it be heard in the Chancery in Boston
and in every Catholic home.
*Of one's own accord