Sunday, 20 February 2011

Why am I afraid to tell you who I am?

"In our time, in which the Faith in many places seems like a light in danger of being snuffed out forever, the highest priority is to make God visible in the world and to open to humanity a way to God. And not to any god, but to the God who had spoken on Sinai; the God whose face we recognize in the love borne to the very end (cf. Jn 13:1) in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen.

Dear brothers and sisters, worship Christ the Lord in your hearts (cf. 1 Pet 3:15)! Do not be afraid to talk of God and to manifest without fear the signs of Faith, letting the light of Christ shine in the presence of the people of today, just as the Church which gives birth to humanity as the family of God sings on the night of the Easter Vigil."
Benedict XVI, FATIMA, Portugal, MAY 12, 2010
Further to the controversy over the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School, the parents have distributed a leaflet in the various parishes where they attend. I say "various" because, unlike most Catholic Schools, the Vaughan takes families from many parishes and uses not geography but practice of the Faith as entrance criteria. (You can read the contents of the leaflet here at James Preece's blog.) What a novel idea - you are able to go top a catholic school not beacuse you happen to live nearby (regardless of faith issues) but because you are a catholic who practices their Faith and is involved in their parish. How revolutionary!

What particularly drew my attention are the following two points:
The Diocese of Westminster has forced schools such as The Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School (CVMS) to drop from their admission criteria the requirement for parents to present their children for the Sacraments of First Holy Communion and Confession.

Practising Catholic families question why this requirement of Canon Law has not been insisted upon by the Diocese.
Coming to the Sacraments is who we are, it is what sustains our faith, builds it up, nourishes it and it is the Sacraments that, when approached faithfully, are guaranteed by Our Lord as the easiest means to get to Heaven (which is why He left them to His Church). It is because they are so important to our spiritual health and because coming to them is the greatest pastoral assistance any priest can minister to another that the Church in its laws insists we come to Mass EVERY SUNDAY. Why are so many in the Church so afraid to say this to people in these days? This is who we are. Why are we afraid to tell people who we are?

A weapon of mass salvation!


GOR said...

Excellent question, Father.

And there is a corollary: why are we afraid to talk about Mortal Sin? As in: “It is a Mortal Sin to miss Mass on Sundays and Holydays of Obligation (among other things…) without a sufficient reason.”

It seems that we have become embarrassed to talk about Sin at all - and Mortal Sin in particular. The knock on preaching in the old days was that it was too much ‘fire and brimstone’ (Trent) and not enough ‘love’ (Vatican II). Now it appears we have gone to the other extreme of “all you need is love” (‘Spirit of Vatican II’).

Part of the rationale for this attitude must be laid at the feet of Vatican II – or rather the ‘interpreters’ of Vat II. It was a pastoral council, rather than a dogmatic one (not an anathema in sight!). Therefore - the reasoning goes - we must be ‘pastoral’, not dogmatic. Fine in theory but abused in practice. Being ‘pastoral’ was equated with being ‘nice’.

Jesus was ‘nice’ – someone you could sit down and have a beer with. And if the beer ran out, He could provide more (cfr. Cana). He was loving, healed the sick, forgave sinners, suffered rejection meekly, turned the other cheek, etc. He was ‘pastoral’ – end of story.

Except it is not the end, merely the beginning. We forget that Jesus also reproved, admonished, condemned. He spoke clearly about Hell and Damnation. He issued commandments. He fought the Devil (another topic we avoid today). He didn’t mince words and His sayings were ‘hard’ and uncompromising. People walked away from Him, rejected Him – then, as now.

Yes, He was pastoral, but He showed what a true pastor is – the Good Shepherd who loves the flock but warns against straying, points the way and corrects errors, while being open to forgiving the penitent. Now that’s being nice!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Father and GOR you're right.The Cardinal Vaughan School and many of the parents of these boys are not afraid to say the truth, because the truth sets us free. It is in truth we find freedom. The School encourages vocations, because of this. So please pray for the correct outcome at the up-coming court case connected with the school. Go on, ask our Holy Mother to intercede now. Also consider donating to their cause. Many will be out of pocket, in funding the legal action, and can ill afford it. Please pray and please donate at the Vaughan Action Parents Group website.

pattif said...

Parents and many others unconnected with the Vaughan continue to wonder why the Diocese thinks it is unreasonable to ask Catholic applicants to do what all Catholics should be eager to do, regardless of school admission requirements.

Canon Law requires that children be presented for baptism "within the first few weeks" of life, for First Holy Communion "as soon as possible" after attaining the age of reason (seven years)and for First Confession prior to First Holy Communion. What part of those requirements would Catholic parents not wish to observe, whether required to or not?

Nevertheless, we are where we are. Admissions are no longer the issue, having been settled by the determination of the Schools Adjudicator in late 2009. Parents' principal concern is their inadequate representation on the Governing Body, together with what they believe to be the conflict of interest arising from the appointment of the Diocesan Director of Education as a governor of the School.