Michael Voris has another typically plain-spoken comment on the state of the Church in this episode of the Vortex above. His context is the American one but what he says applies just as much over here in the UK. "The percentage of Catholics who consider themselves STRONG Catholics is at an all time low .. the lowest figure EVER in the nearly 40 years" (of this particular survey). Among the 27% of Catholics "who count themselves as STRONG Catholics only HALF say they attend Mass at least once a week." (53% of the already small 27%) Half of the Catholics who say “I’m a strong Catholic” don’t go to Mass."
I would say, as does the teaching of the Church, that you can't be a "strong Catholic" and not go to Mass each Sunday. It seems that what a "Catholic" is no longer bears much relation to what the Church says it is but is made up by each individual.
Mr Voris goes on to point out that this is true of teachers in Catholic schools - "authentic Catholic education hasn’t happened in Catholic schools for decades."
In parish catechesis -"Religious instruction in parishes doesn’t exist except by highly opinionated Catholics who have very little knowledge about the Church’s authentic teachings and feel quite free to insert their personal views in place of those teachings."
And among clergy - "Many of the clergy themselves .. MANY of them .. either don’t know the faith or don’t care about it."
Mr Voris conclusion about what's going on is this:
"What IS happening is a never-ending drumbeat of promoting social justice issues .. and as is very obvious by now .. this promotion is being done at the expense of spiritual concerns."
I have said before that the Church in the western world seems to focus only on social justice aspects of the Faith because they are acceptable to the secular world. It ignores and sidelines the spiritual challenge of the Gospel because it's unpalatable to the world. Somehow, we've arrived at a point where we long to be acceptable to the world and feel unable to do anything that might be criticised by the liberal secular society around us. But caring for the poor without caring for the soul is a Faith with the Redemption torn out of it. C. S. Lewis put this triumph for the devil into clear, easy to understand format in "The Screwtape Letters" where the senior devil Screwtape tells his junior Wormwood that the very best way to undermine the Faith is not to destroy it but to make it empty, not to call forth martyrs but to allow everyone to slide into mediocrity. “Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one--the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts, ...Your affectionate uncle, Screwtape.”
St Monica - pray for us.
In other words, keep some of the outward trappings but lose the heart. Sadly, being lapsed has become respectable. This Sunday's Gospel (in the OF) recalls the narrow door to Heaven. This week also sees the feast of St Monica - patron of those whose children have fallen away from the Faith. We dedicated a little shrine to her here in the parish to remind people to pray for their families and the many, many thousands who have lapsed. It should never become something we stop caring about. Sadly, our schools and parishes are replete with those who still self-identify as Catholics but are lost to any practice of the Faith. The old adage of St Cyprian (another North African, like Monica) concerning the lapsed is still true. You cannot have God for your Father if you do not have the Church as your Mother.
The spouse of Christ cannot be adulterous; she is uncorrupted and pure. She knows one home; she guards with chaste modesty the sanctity of one couch. She keeps us for God. She appoints the sons whom she has born for the kingdom. Whoever is separated from the Church and is joined to an adulteress, is separated from the promises of the Church; nor can he who forsakes the Church of Christ attain to the rewards of Christ. He is a stranger; he is profane; he is an enemy. He can no longer have God for his Father, who has not the Church for his mother. (Treatise on the Unity of the Church 6)
PRAYER TO ST MONICA
Blessed Monica, mother of St. Augustine,
we give thanks to our Father in heaven
Who looked with mercy upon your tears over your wayward son.
His conversion and heroic sanctification were the fruit of your prayers.
Dear St. Monica,
we now ask you to pray with us
for all those sons and daughters that have wandered away from God,
and to add your prayers to those of all mothers who are worried over their children.
Pray also for us that, following your example, we may,
in the company of our children,
one day enjoy the eternal vision of our Father in heaven.
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