Tuesday 13 August 2013

Are you serious?

The coronation of King Richard III  in Westminster Abbey in 1483 by Cardinal Thomas Bourchier - a Catholic.

It seems that the remains of King Richard III are to be interred in Leicester Cathedral after all - with the Rites of the Anglican Communion.  The local Catholic bishop, Malcolm McMahon is, in accordance with ecumenical practice, "happy to take part in any form of ceremony which takes place to mark his final burial.”

No representations seem to have been forthcoming from any Catholic Bishop or the Bishop's Conference.  What a pity.  It seems plain to me that a Catholic should be given Catholic rites.  Would I want my Catholic grandparents remains to be re-interred with the rites of a denomination foreign to them?  I don't think so.  Should my remains ever have to be moved after burial, I would hope my original wishes and faith would be respected.  King Richard is not to be so fortunate.

That no official Catholic interest in giving Catholic Rites for Catholic King have been forthcoming is perhaps indicative of a wider malaise within the Church - certainly here in the West.  My suspicion is that it is just not thought to be important.  This is the same attitude as is displayed in varying ways to all the Sacraments in our day. A sign that we don't take religion seriously any more - not even in the church.  A complete loss of confidence.  If we don't take it seriously, ignoring our own teachings, how can we expect anyone outside the Church to take us seriously?  No wonder evangelization is nigh on impossible. 

To use the Sacraments as examples:

Baptism is delayed until the family happens to get around to it or the school asks for a certificate to get the child into a Catholic School.  No importance is attached to the removal of Original Sin, no importance is attached to giving the child a relationship with the Church and the community of salvation. No importance is given to the promises made to bring the child up in the practice of the Faith - the words are said but not taken seriously as promises.
How to take seriously the most important event in your life.

No one goes to Confession any more.  No one takes seriously the need for forgiveness, presumably because people do not believe they are sinning, or if they are, it really doesn't matter - either for their reception at Holy Communion or for entrance into Heaven.
Sinners seem to have been banned from the Church.

First Communion is sadly, a joke for the most part.  There has been heavy stress since Vatican II on this as part of the process of initiation - one of the Sacraments of Initiation.  However, we all know that the vast majority of those receiving it have not been initiated into the Faith, are not going to be brought on in it and are highly unlikely to be at Mass the following Sunday.  We keep on giving it to the children of families that show no signs of carrying out the promises they made at Baptism.  We do not take it seriously. Perhaps because if we did, there would be so few children making First Communion that we really would have to do something about the crisis - like admitting there is one  - but as no one appears to know how to tackle it, best to continue with head buried firmly in sand.  The obligation to attend Sunday Mass is simply ignored - even by those who do, for the most part, come regularly to Mass. It is not thought important to put Mass before entertainment, recreation or a lie-in on a Sunday morning. A general selfishness of what suits me rather than any relation to the meaning of the sacrament.
I see absolutely no problems!

Confirmation is supposed to be the completion of the Sacraments of Initiation.  In other words, the initiation process is completed.  Yet I hear it described as a means for those lapsed from the Church to "re-connect". The Sacrament is used as an evangelising tool instead of grace offered to those completing the initiation process. (Not that it works as an evangelising tool, for I've tried doing that myself in the past.)
In the Traditional Form of Confirmation the Bishop slapped your face. Could do with bringing that back!

Weddings.  Oh my!  Apart from the fact that there are so few of them, most Catholics don't appear to see them as at all necessary.  A party for when you can afford all the fripperies is all that a wedding is. Not necessary to express or support commitment.  Not necessary for the raising of children. The vast majority of Catholics, even those coming to be married, have completely taken on the attitude of the secular world. Any Catholic understanding of Marriage is completely alien to them.  Most couples coming along (never seen before) have no idea that they should not even be coming to Holy communion should they start attending Mass.  
The Church - a suitable backdrop for "my perfect day."

And so we return to King Richard and the final Rites.  Although it's provided by many dedicated hospital chaplains there are very few Catholics for whom receiving the Last Rites is high on their agenda.  In older parish death registers there is a place for noting if they were given but no one worries about that any more, let alone praying for the deceased at a Requiem Mass.  Surely, as they were baptised (aged 4 to get into the school)
went to Confession (once) 
received First Communion (the last time they were in church before their wedding)
were allowed to be married in church
and had a lovely 'celebration of life' Mass for their funeral
surely, they will go straight to Heaven (where they are not dead but have only slipped into the room next door).
Anything you want - and heaven too.

Am I painting a rather bleak picture - yes.  I fear it is for the most part a true one.  Over the centuries when a Religious Order lost its way, a great leader, a saint, rises up to call it back to its original charism.  Some great leaders, saints, are what we need today to call us back to our original charism.  Let us pray that the Holy Spirit will send us such - and soon - to call us back to the Faith.  In the meantime it's up to each individual to start from themselves - bishop, priest or lay person.  It's not lost, it's all there written down in the Scriptures, the Catechism, the Documents of the Councils, the words of the Sacraments.  All we have to do is start doing and believing what they say.  Along with many others, I believe that the primary place where people experience the Faith - the source and summit (to quote a recent Council) - is one of the most important places to be called back to faithfulness, to start taking seriously again.  The Mass must look like the Mass of Ages and not like a children's playgroup if we are to begin taking it seriously again - along with the rest of the Faith.

Down we go.


Anonymous said...

Fr Henry

I agree with you that the late King Richard III should and must be given a Roman Catholic Requiem in Latin. Why? Because this was the Late King's Faith and we should honour this until he is laid in his final resting place.

There was a petition last year for the King to be buried in Westminster. In fact the King ought to be buried with his Queen, who is already buried in Westminster Abbey.
Queen Anne [1456 - 1485] daughter of the Earl of Warwick, known as The King Maker.

Why seperate them? They were lawfully married in the Roman Catholic Rites and ought to rest together in Westimister Abbey,

Does the Catholic Bishop's Conference think that by staying silent on this subject matter, it (the Bishop's Conference) will gain any sort of support from Catholics?
It is by staying silent that many Catholics question why we do not have Bishops who will speak out and defend the Catholic Faith. No offence meant to the very few Bishops who are Defenders of the Faith.

Kinga Grzeczynska

Anonymous said...

Fr Henry

With regards to your comments about the Sacraments and the very poor attendance of Sunday Mass and Days of Obligation, I am minded to say that the cause of what we are seeing now: CHINOS - catholics in name only - is the direct result of very poor leadership from Archbishops and Bishops, watering down of the teaching of Religious Faith in schools,(the rubbish that Weaving the Web 'taught') and the attitude of some Priests who have allowed the standards to deterioate.

Each parish is as good as the parishioners. They are in turn as good as the Priest. The Priest is led (or not led as the case may be) by the Ordinary.

So therefore, if you have a weak Ordinary, the rest will collapse with him because the Priests who really do work hard will end up despondant and probably move away to another Diocease.

That's the evidence.

Remedy? We all need to work twice as hard and repair the damage that has been done and teach the True Faith according to Rome and not according to the local Ordinary who is not in line with Rome, and has made his own rules up?
Sounding familiar?

Kinga Grzeczynska

JB said...

Dear Father,

this quote of yours,

"We keep on giving it to the children of families that show no signs of carrying out the promises they made at Baptism. We do not take it seriously. Perhaps because if we did, there would be so few children making First Communion that we really would have to do something about the crisis - like admitting there is one"

is, I think, the finest blog-passage I have yet read this year.

Peter Kreeft once wrote that the Lord Saw that the West lacked persecutions and so Sent them liturgists. We seem also to have been Sent no few shepherds who care to satisfy the spirit of the world, rather than the Spirit of God. More recently, the further overthrow of the moral order, in attacks upon Life and Marriage (lacking even robust conscience-protection) have been Added.

The above seems to be yet another unfolding of "lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi." So to undo the satanic damage, Prayer must first be repaired and Glorified. Culture is the flowering of our Cultus (worship) ... and we are afflicted by a really horrendous culture.

Acceptance of these ills for the Sake of the Kingdom purifies us. We need only see the improving quality of our young priests to see the Lord has Blessed the faithful and their petition. We must be patient a while longer.

{Isaiah 40:31 (KJV)
31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.}

While we wait, we are dependant especially upon the Mercy of the Holy Spirit and the Maternal Care of the Most Holy Virgin.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Very stimulating Father, I think you are describing Pelagianism, frightening!

Rhoslyn said...

Fr, can you please explain this to me?

"Most couples coming along (never seen before) have no idea that they should not even be coming to Holy communion should they start attending Mass."

As I am not married or engaged, perhaps I'm missing something? Do you mean that if the couples are not in a state of grace because they have been sleeping together then they should not receive Communion?

By the way, of course you are right that the Church is in a terribly depressing crisis. I had to go to mass in an area of Wales I did not know the other day as I was visiting and Fr...it was bad...really bad. It was worse than usual (so you know how bad it was). I think it's really important for people to speak plainly about the state of the Church as it is because only by doing that can we realise the extent of what has to be cleared up. However, I am consoled by the fact that you are in the Church and you have a parish and you speak the Truth, Fr! There are still priests like you around and there are Catholics like us who agree with you! Deo gratias! As you say, we just have to keep living what we believe and following all the rich teaching of the Church which has been set out so clearly for us. Easier said than done but the great role that blogs like this play in my life is that they keep me going when a lot of people tell me I'm nuts. We're all nutters together :)

Long-Skirts said...


They cancelled all color
Sanctuaries stripped
First Communions were duller.

No crinoline whites
Pale hues they stressed
“Only pearled-Pharisees
Are ever so dressed.”

Roses, carnations,
Flowers, all manners
Left just to wither
‘Gainst assertives’ beige banners.

Pillars of marble
Corinthian styles
They decided to paint
Like pink bathroom tiles.

Cassocks of red
Habits blue, white,
Robes of distinction
Extinct over night.

Missals with pages
Embossed in gloss-gold
Latin in tint
English-black often bold.

Even the ribbons
To mark scriptural prayers
Were of green, yellow, silvers
So to keep us from errors.

The soft votive flames
The red opaque glass
Gave an aura of stillness
Like time could not pass.

Yet time it passed
Vividness drained
And populations without color
Cannot be sustained.

So those underground
With red blood in blue veins
Birthed knowledge, the arts
Great virtues they gained.

They did not decay-
God’s colors kept green
For the day up above
Once again to be seen.

Except for those beige
Gray fertility fades
In their black open minds.

Scott Woltze said...

Thank you for the lively manifesto. It's always comforting to read a sane voice during these strange times.

Fr Simon Henry said...

Apologies - that is a little unclear. The majority of couples that approach requesting marriage are already living together. In other words, they present to the world as man and wife without the benefit of the sacrament of marriage. What used to be called "living in sin" - although that phrase is officially not supposed to be used any more.

johnf said...

I have little trust in the Bishops of this country. They seem more interested in mucking about with Holy Days of Obligation, than standing up to the issues of the day.

The three newest Bishops, Philip Egan, Mark Davies and Alan Hopes are impressive. God grant we get more of them. Our local Bishop is fairly quiet, though I do remember him uttering a rather pertinent Bon mot in the 90's when he observed that to the modern day, Chastity is more terrifying than AIDS.

Our local parish priest is robust and Holy. He says the NO mass reverently, and has introduced the Leonine Prayers after mass during the week Confessions on Wednesdays and Saturdays; Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament on Fridays followed by Benediction to seek atonement for the sins of priests. I am very satisfied with my parish though it would be nice if we could have the VO from time to time. Father did go to Ushaw a few years ago to get tutored, but so far has not availed himself of these skills.

Fr Michael Brown said...

`It is not thought important to put Mass before entertainment, recreation or a lie-in on a Sunday morning`

You hit the nail on the head. If I ever write my book on the modern Church it`s title will be `It doesn`t really matter: life in today`s Catholic Church.`

GOR said...

It is probably impolitic to say so these days but I think one reason for our lack of attention to the obligations of our Faith is that we no longer fear God! And, of course, not fearing God means not fearing Hell – if we even believe Hell exists.

From the secular “All you need is love” of decades ago we have made God into a doddery old grandfather who sees no evil, requires no hard choices and forgives everything regardless of whether we show any repentance or remorse. We can do no wrong.

If “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” and also one of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, why are we so blasé…? Part of it probably is that we are no longer taught to fear God’s justice - only to emphasize His mercy and love. But you can’t have one without the other. We readily recall God’s mercy, but ignore His justice.

It would be instructive to list the number of times Our Lord preached about Hell and damnation. And then to recall the number of times we have heard any preaching about it in recent decades.

We all may not be going to Hell, but if we’re not careful – and fearful – we’re all not going to Heaven either!

Unknown said...

It would appear that the Catholic Bishops are not interested in giving Richard 111 a catholic burial and prefer to follow the all too familiar ecumenical guidelines.I do hope that societies and priests of a traditional mind will counter this and arrange requiem masses(TLM or Sarum Rite)for the King to be said at the same time as the protestant service.
With respect to the general loss of faith the tide of modernism has been sweeping through the church for a long time and barring a miracle it will take a long time to rectify.In the meantime Father continue to preach the faith in season and out of season.

Rhoslyn said...

Thank you for the explanation, Fr. I had thought you were referring to some tradition of not receiving Holy Communion just before marriage or something but of course I know what you mean.

I'm sorry that 'living in sin' is not supposed to be used anymore; I think it's perfectly good. If I may ask, who has banned this phrase from being used?

Scott Woltze said...

@ Fr. Michael Brown,

I love the title of your prospective book. Perfect.

Jacobi said...

I agree Father the picture you paint is bleak – but true.

I suspect we are in another period when we are being failed by our Bishops, the Successors of the Apostles, as in the Arian Heresy times, and after the Protestant Reformation in England, when all bar one great saint, Fisher, succumbed without a fight.

Popes such St Pius X warned us about the Modernist heresy, “the synthesis of all heresies” and laymen such as Belloc foresaw it explicitly in what he called “The Modern Attack”.

The present problems started with the naive decision by John XXIII to call a Council for no proper reason, against sound advice, and at the wrong time. But things became critical when Modernism swept into the Church in the post-Vatican II period “this later Modernism might be compared to a great flood of water pouring into a house with devastating effects”, as a post-Vatican priest has put it.

But the real problem was that our bishops either did not understand what was happening, or were too uncertain in their Faith to object, or worse still possibly, even sympathised with this new heresy, so that even today when Benedict XVI has defined what is wrong and has shown us the way ahead, there is no consensus or desire amongst our bishops to set things right.

Yes there is much talk of the “New Evangelisation”. But how a Church that is so weakened, so poorly led, and above all is so unsure of what it actually believes in, can “Evangelise”, and is beyond me.

Our Lady pray for us!

Mummymayhem said...

Fr. Thank you.Thank you.Thank you.