Thursday, August 25, 2016

Msgr Charles Pope: Comfort Catholicism Has to Go; It is Time to Prepare for Persecution

There is a growing consternation among some Catholics that the Church, at least in her leadership, is living in the past. It seems there is no awareness that we are at war and that Catholics need to be summoned to sobriety, increasing separation from the wider culture, courageous witness and increasing martyrdom.

It is long past dark in our culture, but in most parishes and dioceses it is business as usual and there is anything but the sober alarm that is really necessary in times like these.

Scripture says, Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle (Psalm 144:1). Preparing people for war — a moral and spiritual war, not a shooting war — should include a clear setting forth of the errors of our time, and a clear and loving application of the truth to error and light to darkness.

But there is little such training evident in Catholic circles today where, in the average parish, there exists a sort of shy and quiet atmosphere — a fear of addressing “controversial” issues lest someone be offended, or the parish be perceived as “unwelcoming.”

But, if there ever was a time to wear soft garments, it is not now.

The Church of the 1970s-1990s was surely well described as the era of “beige Catholicism” (a term coined by Bishop Robert Barron, and not by way of flattery either). Those of us who lived through that era, especially in the 1970s, remember it as a time when many parish signs beckoned people to “come and experience our welcoming and warm Catholic community.” Our most evident desire was to fit in and be thought of as “normal.” Yes, Catholics were just like everyone else; and we had been working very hard to do that, at least since the early 1960s when John F. Kennedy was elected. Catholics had finally “made it” into the mainstream; we had been accepted by the culture.

Church architecture and interiors became minimalist and non-descript. Music and language in the liturgy became folksy. Marian processions, Corpus Christi processions, many things of distinctive and colorful Catholicism all but disappeared. Even our crucifixes disappeared, to be replaced by floating “resurrection Jesus” images. The emphasis was on blending in, speaking to things that made people feel comfortable, and affirming rather than challenging. If there was to be any challenge at all it would be on “safe” exhortations such as not abusing the environment or polluting, not judging or being intolerant, and so forth.

Again, if there ever was a time to wear soft garments, it is not now. It is zero-dark-thirty in our post-Christian culture. And while we may wish to blame any number of factors for the collapse, we cannot exclude ourselves. We who are supposed to be the light of the world, with Christ shining in us, have preferred to hide our light under a basket and lay low. The ruins of our families and culture are testimony to the triumph of error and the suppression of the truth.

Read the rest here.

I think this is an excellent article with many points that can be applied by non-Catholics.


Chris said...

Three cheers!

Abbot Theodore said...

Words that apply every bit as much to we Orthodox!

Gregory Manning said...

I agree Fr. Theodore but we have one "advantage". Irrespective of how much many of us actually know about the actual practice of asceticism (as opposed to giving it lip service), many Orthodox understand that it is a requisite factor in living the Christian life. They may not like it in practice but the principle isn't foreign to them. One's ability to endure the "suffering" inherent in the ascetic life serves at least to prepare one for the suffering of the age we now find ourselves in and which the good Bishop has realized is upon his own flock. If I may use my extensive family as an example (some "Catholic" and the rest Protestant), the very idea of anything resembling the discomfort inherent in an ascetic life is anathema. To a "man", they firmly believe that God just wants us all to be happy-however each person understands that. The suffering which accompanies persecution will devastate them as it will the Bishop's flock and our own co-believers who have avoided as much spiritual heavy-lifting as possible.
Better late than never but the Bishop has an uphill battle trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube. Once you've persuaded your people to adopt and get used to living out indulgent and moralistically relative lives it's going to be nearly impossible to change course.