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A prayer for our time is that the Church not compromise with worldliness. This is a huge mistake and historically has been its greatest challenge.

During the Middle Ages it was worldliness in the way of materialism. The papal palace had been relocated to France, and visitors reported piles of money (literally) that were being counted there. This was the infamous time of scandal in the way of selling pastorships, marital rights for clergy, and indulgences. It helped lead to the great schism called the Reformation (and was followed by bubonic plague, which devastated churches, monasteries, convents, and the papal offices, dealing the Church and society devastation).

In our own time is the challenge of intellectualism -- idolatry of the human mind, a different form of worldliness but one that likewise thins the flock and confuses the faithful.

As we have noted before, too many of our diocesan offices present a sterile businesslike environment that not only doesn't encourage devotional spirituality and gifts of the spirit but often discourages them. We plead against it. In the hierarchy, there has been more focus on a tiny group of "Lefebvrites" than on healing. Perhaps it is good for perspective to note that the Society of Saint Pius X (as of 2009) had 510 priests, 117 religious brothers, 164 religious sisters, 200 seminarians, 88 schools, and two university-level institutes worldwide, numbers not to be ignored but numbers which -- when compared with the mainstream Roman Catholic Church's 409,000 priests, 59,000 seminarians, 54,641 religious brothers, and 739,000 religious sisters -- are perhaps not to be overly stressed.

With all respect, it is urgent that our Church turn away from the snare of parochialism -- a focus that tends to confinement in a small world that blinds us and makes internal matters seem more important than they are (see the "butler" controversy) and that prevents a view of the entire spiritual landscape. Meanwhile, the temptation to be hip and cosmopolitan, along with the snare that causes us to speak in obscure sentences (laden with arcane polysyllabic words that bring our Church into a convoluted world of reflecting more on itself and its instruments -- its legalism, its canon laws, its decrees, its treatises, its motu proprios -- than on Heaven) do not tend toward evangelism. When that happens, the pews empty and the rectory becomes just one more office building. Let us pay attention to those who are most devout more than those who are the wealthiest.

The biggest problem is lack of prayer. Our priests do not have the time, training, or energy to pray enough. Had there been enough prayer, and screening at seminaries, there would not have been such an abuse crisis. When we compromise with worldliness, we emphasize political forays and dinners and awards and bingo and casino trips and press pronouncements and church councils and media appearances (and media watching) more than Adoration.

Fortunately, there are a good number of exceptions, and those dioceses that have turned more traditional are seeing surges in vocations. There has been such a rise in Divine Mercy candidates that there is not the space for them all at the Marian House for Formation in Steubenville, Ohio (where devotion trumps business), and this is true for orthodox seminaries in the South and Midwest. Although the diocese of St. Augustine, Florida, counts just 137 priests, it has thirty (hopefully) future priests in seminary. That's in contrast to the massive Archdiocese of New York of nearly 1,800 priests which this year ordained just one new priest (though there will be some more ordinations next year). Our suggestion: that our dear bishops in more lacking dioceses look at these places and contemplate changes that need to be made. Years ago we heard from a seminarian in the Washington, D.C. area who said he and others had to secretly meet in the basement of a dorm to recite the Rosary together. In another seminary, the men went together on mall shopping junkets.

An important matter to address is how seminarians are formed. Currently, it is an extremely long process, one that in most cases takes eight (too) long years, can be extremely costly, and includes courses that at times seem to have little relationship with devotional Catholicism (particularly onerous: studies in philosophy, getting back to worldliness). In some dioceses a young man has to be close to a martyr in order to survive the process, for not only does he have to pass scrutiny of liberal screeners who often reject young men if they are openly opposed to things like homosexuality but also survive an avalanche of course work that too often is far more cerebral than spiritual. This must change.

The truth sets us free, and the truth is that in too many cases a conservative candidate must also navigate around the advances of homosexual seminarians (or teachers). 

All the while, they have their families questioning their calling.


Those who get through this process are special men (indeed).  

And indications are that there is an excellent crop of young, conservative priests entering the ranks, following the debacle since the 1960s.

The Vatican has been objectively slow in addressing such issues -- despite the urgency. While the media unfairly attacks Rome for a recent clampdown on modernistic nuns, the truth is that action should have been taken decades ago. We say this through love and hope and respect. Worldliness? At a time when the Vatican is again running a major deficit (due to its bank), it may consider reining in costs at the Vatican Observatory as well as limiting its newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, which of late has taken to commentary on such topics as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Blues Brothers. (One may recall an album by The Stones called His Satanic Majesty.) It is not to judge these entertainers, so much as to indicate worldliness. Our Church gains most respect when it distances -- and transcends -- the secular.

Do you know that non-denominational charismatic and Pentecostals are seeing an eruption in conversions -- from Catholicism -- in South America, which should be such a Catholic bastion? They accent gifts of the Spirit. What about us? No Church has more gifts nor more instruments of the miraculous (when they are used in a way that isn't cerebral).

Surveys show that in 1980, nearly 90 percent of Brazilians identified as Catholic. By 2009, that figure had dropped to just 68 percent.

At the same time, Brazilís Evangelical following has skyrocketed to twenty percent of Brazilís population.

They are retaining much of the flock by practicing what they know, down there, as "evangelical Catholicism."

There's a charismatic priest in Brazil who attracts as many as 50,000 to a Mass -- more than Joel Osteen does to civic centers.  (They have to build to accommodate the faithful. Reported a Catholic newspaper: "The new sanctuary will have a capacity of 60,000 inside, with room for another 40,000 outside.)" He once actually celebrated a Mass for some two million people on a Formula One race course. The attraction: feeling (not just hearing about) the Holy Spirit.

Bring it here. Bring it to the U.S. and Canada (and Australia, and Europe, and New Zealand).

Try also Western Europe (attendance in France: six percent).

Africa is doing fine. So are the Philippines.

They practice charismatic devotionalism.

Healing. Deliverance. We yearn!

The cerebral approach has failed. It blocks the ear of the heart. Our Church can be turned around but it would take a very strong and uncompromising approach that breaks down local bureaucracies known as episcopacies such that they more reflect to workings of the first bishops. It is perhaps the Holy Spirit Who in the wake of the abuse crises has caused bishops' mansions to be sold in archdioceses such as Boston and Philadelphia.


(Pope John Paul II slept in a room with just a single bed and a chest of drawers; ditto Padre Pio).

We must always guard against self-importance. An easy solution: preach (and heal, and exorcise) and believe (key word here: believe) like the apostles; know that there are plenty of miracles (despite secular science); speak simply and strongly and with neither fear nor favor, as did Jesus.

Our dialogue -- our proclamations -- must move away from platitudes and discourses, which speak only to theologians.

While statements are made as if future historians will analyze every syllable of every word in an exceedingly long encyclical, odds are that future historians will not have the time, nor inclination; odds are, in the coming tumult, they will not even hear of them.

[Print article]

[Spirit Daily bookstore]

[see also: The Message of LaSalette and Pope's attempt to win over SSPX 'rebels' at 'dead end'?]

[Feedback from Noelle Ryan: "I have been reading for some time now articles on your website talking about progressives within the church and how they are trying to change things. It all seemed so far removed from me until today. Today I wept at Mass. The heresy with which the priest was coming out with was so extreme that I was soul stricken and appalled that no-one else seemed to notice. I will list a few of the transgressions and I just wanted to ask have you been getting any emails of similar incidences in other parishes?
1) The visiting priest introduced himself and then invited anyone who wanted to leave to go to Dunkin Donuts. He said and I quote,
'God does not take attendance. She has better things to do.'
2) He proceeded to talk about how he was brought out of retirement to say Mass and said, 'I don't know why I am here. I don't know why some of you women here couldn't do the Mass, or one of you married men.'
3) He omitted the "Gloria" and the 'Creed'
4) He changed the words of the Gospel. Where it said "He" he said 'they.' At the end he offered an explanation after first admonishing all those who read their missalettes while he read the Gospel and advising us to walk out now and head for Dunkin Donuts. His explanation was
'I changed the words of "He" to "They" to be inclusive.'
5) At the Consecration, he did not elevate the Host and the Chalice nor did he genuflect.
There were many other things he did and said most of which was to undermine the significance of the rituals of Consecration and to show no especial respect for the Eucharist which he characterized as 'an action' not the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, of the second person of the Trinity. I will stop now. I am so upset. It has deeply shaken me. Not my belief in God or the Mass but in the holiness of some of our priests. It did not appear to me that anyone else noticed. The danger of such talk for the congregation who may not see the insidious and undermining theme that was a current throughout the Mass is especially upsetting to me. I went up to him after Mass and respectfully told him how I felt and why, to which he said absolutely nothing. After I said, I would pray for him he said he was sorry that I got upset. Lord help us.  I am living in a rural village two hours north of NYC just to add some perspective. Is anyone else writing to you of occurrences like this? Is there any authority in the church to whom I could address these issues to?" Reply:
Yes, the Cardinal. And if you are not happy with that, the Papal Nuncio in Washington.]

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