Thursday, 4 November 2010

Models of the Church. No. 1 - Outdated bureaucracy.

After all the discussions we have been encouraged to engage in about the order of the Sacraments in the Archdiocese it turns out that discussion, like resistance to the Borg, is futile. The decision had already been made. The 'discussion' we as the body of all the priests of the Archdiocese gathered together were asked to engage in was simply:
- when would you like this to happen (not if),
-what age should the children be (within a year or two) and
- how wonderful do you think the new plan is (with no corresponding box to tick to say how bad you might think it).

It is being linked with a supposedly new idea of "Family Catechesis" where:

1. The same catechists will be with a family through Baptism, Communion and Confirmation (Confession loiters in the shadows, we know not where or when).

2. Whole families rather than just the particular children being prepared for a particular sacrament will be catechised together.

My own experience and that of many other priests is that it is notoriously difficult to get one parent let alone whole families to come to anything at all. Many priests are downcast at the lack of practice in their parishes and we just don't know what to do about it. Carry on pushing all those in our (supposedly) Catholic schools through programmes that don't work or go for the option of just making the invitation at church (you get about 2 candidates from a class of thirty). They are grasping hold of this "new" catechesis as the answer to their problems.

The other interesting thing is that we apparently need an indult from Rome to do this - although one has not yet been sought. Perhaps it will not be given. My own thought is that if this new order in the Sacraments is so desired by Rome, why does each new place that wants to do it need a special indult? We are told that Rome is keen on this but, as one priest pointed out very clearly at our meeting, the full reference in Sacramentum Caritatis is not quite so directive and admits of several possibilities so long as all is, ultimately, directed to the Holy Eucharist:

No. 18. In this regard, attention needs to be paid to the order of the sacraments of initiation. Different traditions exist within the Church. There is a clear variation between, on the one hand, the ecclesial customs of the East and the practice of the West regarding the initiation of adults, and, on the other hand, the procedure adopted for children. Yet these variations are not properly of the dogmatic order, but are pastoral in character. Concretely, it needs to be seen which practice better enables the faithful to put the sacrament of the Eucharist at the centre, as the goal of the whole process of initiation

Seems to me that we are suffering from following the pattern of the world again - this time, the world of bureaucracy:

We MUST do something,
this is something,
therefore we MUST do this.

Sir Humphrey Appleby would once again be proud!

What is it they say about deckchairs and the Titanic?

We are indeed failing but we are not tackling the underlying issues. We are giving the Sacraments to those who have neither faith nor The Faith. They have no interest or knowledge of the Deposit of the Faith and they have no personal relationship with Jesus as Lord and Saviour. For whatever cultural and social reasons great swathes of folk want the Sacraments but they have no interest in The Faith or faith. But the Sacraments are for believers. We do the Sacraments and the people a disservice to administer them before there is a founded hope that the children will be brought up in the practice of the Faith (indeed Canon Law tells the Priest specifically NOT to do this).

When anything like this is mentioned there is a great outcry that we must not make it difficult for people, that any sign of faith (including asking for the sacraments even without any intention of practising the Faith) is enough. BUT IT IS NOT. The model in the Church of the fourth century that is being hailed as the answer to all our problems made people catechumens, but years could go by before they went through the final Lenten catechesis and were at last received into the Church. Far from being inclusive, those who were not fully initiated were told to get out when the sacred mysteries were being enacted. I sometimes hear that coming to Mass isn't the be-all and end-all of everything. RUBBISH. If we are not centred on the Holy Eucharist then we might as well pack our bags and go home. And practising the Faith doesn't just mean coming to Mass - what about living the Christian life - prayer, chastity, the married state (or lack of it), people's view on abortion, in vitro fertilization, charity to the poor, understanding of sin, salvation and the supernatural life, etc etc etc.

In other words we are using the Sacraments of Initiation for a purpose for which they are not intended - evangelisation. I heard it said by a fellow priest that Confirmation in the teenage years helped the young people to "touch base" with the Church they were estranged from. But these are the Sacraments of Initiation, not a one night stand.

The Holy Father drew attention to this problem last month when establishing the new Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelisation.
"there has been a troubling loss of the sense of the sacred, which has even called into question foundations once deemed unshakeable such as faith in a provident creator God, the revelation of Jesus Christ as the one Saviour, and a common understanding of basic human experiences: i.e., birth, death, life in a family, and reference to a natural moral law". MOTU PROPRIO - UBICUMQUE ET SEMPER
Clearly our first task must be to evangelise. As Pope Paul VI put it (some years ago!);
“as a result of the frequent situations of dechristianisation in our day, [evangelisation] also proves equally necessary for innumerable people who have been baptized but who live quite outside Christian life, for simple people who have a certain faith but an imperfect knowledge of the foundations of that faith, for intellectuals who feel the need to know Jesus Christ in a light different from the instruction they received as children, and for many others” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, n. 52)


torchofthefaith said...

Well said Father!

There is a marvellous book which His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, wrote (when Cardinal Ratzinger).

It is entitled Called to Communion.

It has a section dealing with 'futile reform'. This could be describing Liverpool Archdiocese's Leaving Safe Harbours to a 'T' and it should have been required reading for the LACE team before they went about engineering consent for their new model of 'being Church'.

Here is another point worth pondering - It is exactly one mile from LACE to the abortion mill in Aigburth. While all the priests of the Archdiocese were caught up in this meeting many babies were slaughtered there and not a Christian was in sight to challenge this evil or to offer pastoral support and alternatives to the women and children involved.

Indeed every single day - as the staff at LACE go about peddling their programmes, encouraging dissent to flourish and keeping orthodox people on the outside - this dreadful holocaust continues unabated.

A handful of laity pray quietly there each week and one or two priests come at times to encourage them on their way. The official channels are silent.

It is not new programmes or structures we need but new hearts. It is holiness not management which is required. We need to lament for this and to do penance for if the Church of Jesus Christ will not stand for the innocent who else will?

Instead of reforming structures ans systems we should be reforming the liturgy from the deplorable humanistic picnic we have degraded it into. We should be reforming our schools from the impure filth and moral relativism which prevails in them. We should be reforming our marriage programmes from the reign of dissenting nonsense which is feeding the culture of death and divorce.

The ideology behind the new model of Church being created locally is blatantly Neo-Marxist. It seeks to play down the sacred role of the priest and replace it with lay secretaries.

Those calling for such changes at high levels are doing so because they claim there are not enough vocations. I bear witness to the truth that these are the very ones behind the present vocations shortage - using ideological bias to prevent orthodox men from getting into the seminaries.

At least there are priests like yourself working to bring the light of Christ to the world by your integrity, hard work and devotion. Oh, but there were more like you.

This is what young Catholics are looking for. If we wanted secularism we would go into the world for it.

P.S. Thank you for mentioning my earlier comment. Let us pray that Jesus would keep us in His peace and that His Truth and Love will prevail in winning hardened hearts back to Him.

In Christ
Alan Houghton.

Kate said...

Great blog, Father!
Six of our eight children have made their first Holy Communion; each time we attended the 1st Communion class meetings for parents and invariably there were present parents whom we had never seen at Mass either before or after the Ist Communion of their child!
At one such meeting, a parent opined that weekly attendance at Mass was a bit 'fundamentalist', he thought that Mass attendance once a month, or so, was about right.Our PP was present, but did not correct this view or explain what the Church teaches about the necessity of Sunday Mass. Nothing was said to enlighten this parent.
We wanted to bring this up at the next meeting, but were told firmly that we couldn't, and that Fr. would remove us from the meeting if we tried to.

Dies Irae Dies Illa said...

Father, thank-you for your recent excellent posts. Having left Safe Harbours on the good ship Titanic II from Liverpool Docks, the members of the committed and dedicated Ship’s Band are currently tuning-up for a rousing rendition of “For Those In Peril On The Sea” which will be followed quickly with “Nearer My God To Thee”. Whilst the band members are following their leader in practice, the humble deckchair attendants are busy shuffling the deckchairs around to ensure best placement to catch the sun's rays as it fails to beat down on the very few passengers sailing.

Meanwhile in the Captain’s Quarters, Captain Kelly with the use of his shalalee conducts his close officer friends in a verse or two of “My God I Love Thee Not”. Whilst the good Captain is distracted by his fellows’ hearty singing he fails to observe that the vessel, crew and passengers, placed under his charge by the First Sea LORD, have been steered far from their intended course and are headed for the sand-banks of Morecambe Bay. At that point the band will strike-up with “O I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside” followed by a stirring rendition of “There’s No Place Like Home”.

Should we worry? No – not at all! Why? Because I believe the good Captain can walk on water, sorry mental blip - walk across the infamously dangerous ground!

Please forgive me if I don’t follow him into the quicksand, neither will I support, financially or otherwise a spiritually bankrupt Archdiocese. An Archdiocese that was, for so many years led by one (may he rest in peace), who many still mistakenly view as a great man, but who commenced, encouraged and oversaw the deconstruction of Catholicism in this Country and particularly in the Archdiocese of Liverpool. Many of this man’s protégés are now running the Catholic-Lite (C) brand dioceses the length and breadth of England.

His successor in Liverpool has continued and developed in many ways that deconstruction. This is not just incompetent buffoonery - it is deliberate, wilful and malicious incompetent buffoonery veiled in an innocuous M&S cardigan!

They have sought and destroyed that which was One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. They have destroyed that which was paid for with the “pennies of the poor”. They have succeeded in destroying the ‘Faith’ of the faithful and they continue in their relentless quest.

Psalm 27: 4 & 9
"Give them according to their works, and according to the wickedness of their inventions. According to the works of their hands give thou to them: render to them their reward".

"Save, O Lord, thy people, and bless thy inheritance".

Dorothy B said...

I'm so pleased, Father, that you have started this blog. There seems to have been very little in the Catholic blogosphere about the life of the Church in the Liverpool Archdiocese, where I grew up and spent many years of my adult life, and which has been such a major player in the history of Catholicism in our country.

The state of things has been mentioned here and there in comments, but now, thanks to you, we can read about, and commiserate with, the things that are happening where you live.

Long may you continue in this valuable work.

Chloe said...

Bravo Father! Keep it coming! The Borg were defeated evetually and so will this lot be. Things ARE changing, and like Padre St Pio said 'Pray and don't worry'.