was a time when Catholics knew and recognized
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?
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
We gather at the Table of the Lord.
We eat Jesus flesh and drink His blood, literally.
We primarily engage in a Communal Meal.
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)
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?
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
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
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,
you can't stand the heat, keep out of the kitchen.
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 ...
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
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.
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.
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
after all, is
of the Faith.
Everyone Wins but the Kids
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 no-win situation.
They never come to know Christ.
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 anyone will.
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
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!
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 ... right?
of the longstanding negligence of our bishops have been
far-reaching ... to even the smallest among us.
The frightening question, really, is this: not,
will teach our children better? but this:
will teach our Bishops better?
Indeed ... who?
Boston Catholic Journal
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