Has The Church Lost Its Nerve?

Dear Friends,

The world we live in is becoming increasingly more godless; the Church capitulates to public opinion which is turn is driven by the media. So has the Church lost its nerve in the face of the media promoting an oppressively constant counter-culture opposed to the teaching of the Church and our most holy faith?

Most of you will no doubt have heard of Stephen Gately, a singer in a group called ‘Boy’s Own’, and his untimely demise at the young age of thirty three; he was found dead in his holiday home in Majorca. He had entered one of these so called ‘civil partnerships’ with another man and lived a sexually deviant life style. The body was brought back to Dublin and he was given a full Catholic Mass service in his home church in Dublin and no one seemed the least bit surprised. The band played and songs were sung and yet no one spoke of eternal life, God’s judgement or God’s mercy - should we not “be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching”(2 Tim.4: 2, emphasis mine), preaching the word? Thousands attended his funeral including musicians, celeberties and politicians; what a wonderful opportunity this afforded to preach the whole counsel of God. Please do not think that I am judging the state of this poor young mans soul, but the scandal given to ordinary practising Catholics who must have thought that it is of no consequence what your life style has been, you will, nonetheless, receive a full Catholic funeral when the time arrives. The same is happening when a ‘partner’ (not a spouse) dies; it seems it does not matter for, married or unmarried, one will get the same treatment from the Church. This is clearly outrageous, have we really defected so far from orthodox Catholic doctrine?

Think of the uproar if the Archbishop had denied Mr. Gately a Catholic Funeral. Why, there would have been an outbreak of fury in the media, public opinion would be whipped up (not too difficult these days) and the Church would have been vilified more than ever, if that were possible. The Church appeasing the media achieves no positive results and in the end only serves to weaken its testimony and damage its credibility in the eyes of the world.

On the topic of funerals, a newspaper article here in the U.K. told of the disgust of a Anglican clergyman when conducting a service for the deceased. It was an entirely secular affair as he had to endure Tina Turner and Frank Sinatra; hymns and prayers were replaced by a “poem from grandma” or a “saccharine message from a pop star”. The clergyman said he felt like a “lemon”, sort of redundant. The service had no Christian content whatsoever. As the coffin rolled into the furnace, “I did it my way” blared out from the speakers. Tina Wollen, of the British Humanist Society, said: “Being chanelled into a ritual of words that do not ring true with your beliefs when you are saying goodbye to someone you love can be especially painful. Humanists believe we have one life and it ends at death”. This is the kind of militant and irreligious atheism that the Church must engage with in these days of unprecedented spiritual declension; the question is, do we have the stomach for the fight?

Warmest good wishes,

Portrait

One should not start a thread with a yes/no question and then end it with another yes/no question if one single answer would be mutually contradictory! :wink:

My answer is Yes, and No, respectively. And qualified!

The qualifier is that by ‘church’ I mean the bulk of the people, lay and clergy, who make up the Church (i.e. the Church Militant at this moment in time). But my answers would be reversed if you define Church in the larger sense (Militant, Suffering and Triumphant)! We are soft weaklings at the moment. But the mounting cultural hostility against catholicism will in fairly short order turn into a refining fire. I have hope I’ll live to see it.

Yes, it has lost its nerve. While you can not put 100% of the blame on the Church, it has been woefully impotent for the last several decades and has failed to rise to the challenge of today’s postmodern impulses. When you have 60-80% of people in Church voting for abortion and gay marriage while divorcing and sleeping around, you know its in trouble. We may all be sinners, but most people today claim sin doesn’t exist and we shouldn’t judge. That’s on a whole different level from the weak sinner of tradition.

I agree that things are really out of whack in society today. I was shocked when watching the “Wolverine” movie with my family the other night, at the number of times the Lord’s name was used in vane. This is a movie taken from a comic book! Aren’t most comic books aimed at kids and teens? I know this is sort of off the subject, but it’s really not when you realize how many sinful things have trickled down to the level of what children are exposed to.
On the other hand, I see a strong resurrgence of faith among Catholics. In the area I live in, two out of five parishes have perpetual Eucharistic adoration. That says a lot about the people in this area. I don’t think we’re in the Springtime of the Church that JP II talked about. Not yet, we don’t have the numbers, but I see signs that we’re headed that way. We all need to pray.

Dear Nec5,

Thankyou for taking the time to respond to my new thread. Good comments.

You are quite correct when you state that the Church has “failed to rise to the challenge of today’s postmodern impulses”. The urgent need of the hour is surely for a Christian backlash - a vigorous response to the neo paganism of the contemporary world; it is here that the Church has, at least in recent times, been a monumental failure and pathetically ineffective.

The Church of course is the Body of Christ and not merely the ‘hierarchy’ and I believe that collectively we must all take some responsibility for the deplorable condition in which we find ourselves. Our Lord said, “You are the salt of the earth;but if the salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under the foot of men” (St. Matt. 5:13). God intends for His Church to be the most powerful of all restraints within sinful society; we are to be a sort of moral disinfectant in a world where moral standards are low, constantly changing and sometimes plainly non-existent. Alas, this is not happening and on that fact many of us would concur. But why is it not happening? It is my belief that Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, have become assimilated to non-christains and tainted by the impurities of the world, thus loosing their influence. Clearly the influence of the faithful in and on society is contingent on their being distinct, not identical. The Church’s mandate is to convert the world, not to be converted by it!

As a recent convert to the Church from Anglicanism, I have been deeply saddened by the number of Catholics, even here on CAF, who are recklessly determined to defend that which is indefensible as well as morally reprehensible. Thus you will find them passionately defending and engaging in all manner of sophistical reasoning, just so they can normalize and justify the tawdry, tastless and trivial; I alude to salacious TV shows and films, novels with questionable content, promiscuous dancing, and rock music with its occultic connections and many overt or suggestive sexual references. It would appear that they are quite content with an inferior, hand in hand with the world standard of religion that virtually makes them indistinguishable from the non-Christians with whom they live and move and have their being. Putting it simply they have rendered themselves useless; they have become well, saltless salt. These misguided people fail to realize that it is when the Church is most unlike the world, that she invariably attracts it.

Surely it is only when the Church collectively cultivates habits of self-restraint and self-denial (i.e. the pursuit of holiness), that she will begin to impact the decadent society in her midst. We Christians must dare to be different by being spiritually and morally withdrawn from the godless neo-pagan society in which our lot is cast (cf. Daniel 1:8). This is only following St. Paul who enjoins us to* separate* from the godless and idolatrous world when he says, “Therefore come out from among them, and be separate says the Lord and touch not the unclean thing” (2 Cor. 6:17). It clearly follows from all this that there are certain habits, certain practices and certain places to which a Christian simply cannot go. On the contrary he will endeavour to live up to the arduous requirements of the N.T. and keep himself “unstained by the world” (James 1:27).

Warmest good wishes,

Portrait

Dear livnlern,

I do not think that we should equate Eucharistic adoration* per se* with a “strong resurrgence of faith” necessarily, although it may be a key part of it. Sadly it is possible to have Eucharitic adoration, veneration of relics, frequent attendance at Mass, praying the Rosary etc. and yet no real holiness and separation from the world. You will recall what our Lord said of the religious people of his day “This people honour me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me” (St. Matt. 15:8). The aforementioned are not worthless but they must be accompanied by a pursuit of holiness or they can all to easily become vain and empty rituals; there must be a spiritual and moral withdrawal from the godless world and its sinful pleasures and pursuits. St John says in his Epistle, “Do not love the world or the things of the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him” (I John 2:15) and St. James calls worldly Christians “Unfaithful creatures!” and then says “Do you not know that friendship of the world is enmity with God Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4). A hard saying indeed, but true nevertheless.

The Church can only offer to the world an authentic Christian counter-culture if it is itself separate and distinct from that world; it is only by being a holy and separate people that we can be the ‘alternative society’ that Jesus intended us to be.

Warmest good wishes,

Portrait

I feel it has. It has begun to look like a branch swinging in the breeze.Hopefully under a new pope, those branches might stiffen up a little.

I agree with you on the need for a pursuit of holiness and the fact that we have a long way to go. But, to my way of thinking, just the fact that people take the trouble to go to adoration, daily mass, and say the Rosary more frequently is a sign that they are tired of the dirt and decay in the world around them. They’re obviously searching for something more than what they see on tv or in the movies.
I know it’s disheartening when the church bishops don’t stand up for the things we believe in. It causes a lot of confusion, especially for those who don’t know the teachings of the church. Maybe God is testing us to see how strong we are as individuals. We’re still the body of the church and have to live up to that, regardless of what other people might do or say.

The spelling is rather more demotic than that, and less grammatical: it is “Boyzone” :slight_smile: - compare: Bratz, kidz, Boyz in the 'Hood, & similar atrocities.

and his untimely demise at the young age of thirty three; he was found dead in his holiday home in Majorca. He had entered one of these so called ‘civil partnerships’ with another man and lived a sexually deviant life style. The body was brought back to Dublin and he was given a full Catholic Mass service in his home church in Dublin and no one seemed the least bit surprised. The band played and songs were sung and yet no one spoke of eternal life, God’s judgement or God’s mercy - should we not “be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching”(2 Tim.4: 2, emphasis mine), preaching the word? Thousands attended his funeral including musicians, celeberties and politicians; what a wonderful opportunity this afforded to preach the whole counsel of God.

Let me guess - were you an Evangelical Anglican :slight_smile: ? A phrase such as “the whole counsel of God” is characteristic of Reformed piety.

Please do not think that I am judging the state of this poor young mans soul, but the scandal given to ordinary practising Catholics who must have thought that it is of no consequence what your life style has been, you will, nonetheless, receive a full Catholic funeral when the time arrives.

Which is more important - the pastoral care of the faithful; or, avoiding giving scandal to them, with the concomitant danger of misrepresenting the attitude of the Church to certain ways of life ? The question is easier to ask than answer.

I think everyone knows by now that the Church is opposed to homosexual practices - & that may lessen the danger of seeming to suggest they are acceptable behaviours by Catholic standards. I’m in favour of leaving the responsibility with the clergy concerned - for how can distant onlookers have anything well-informed to say ?

The same is happening when a ‘partner’ (not a spouse) dies; it seems it does not matter for, married or unmarried, one will get the same treatment from the Church. This is clearly outrageous, have we really defected so far from orthodox Catholic doctrine?

I can’t help wondering whether this is the sort of attitude shown by Jesus in the gospels :frowning: I think there is a danger of being so concerned for doctrine, that we lose sight of people; & ISTM that Jesus was more concerned with people than with doctrine, rules, and law: even if this meant scandalising people.

Think of the uproar if the Archbishop had denied Mr. Gately a Catholic Funeral. Why, there would have been an outbreak of fury in the media, public opinion would be whipped up (not too difficult these days) and the Church would have been vilified more than ever, if that were possible. The Church appeasing the media achieves no positive results and in the end only serves to weaken its testimony and damage its credibility in the eyes of the world.

On the topic of funerals, a newspaper article here in the U.K. told of the disgust of a Anglican clergyman when conducting a service for the deceased. It was an entirely secular affair as he had to endure Tina Turner and Frank Sinatra; hymns and prayers were replaced by a “poem from grandma” or a “saccharine message from a pop star”. The clergyman said he felt like a “lemon”, sort of redundant.

I saw that. The problem there is not quite of the same sort as that raised by the Gateley funeral, AFAICS.

The service had no Christian content whatsoever. As the coffin rolled into the furnace, “I did it my way” blared out from the speakers. Tina Wollen, of the British Humanist Society, said: “Being chanelled into a ritual of words that do not ring true with your beliefs when you are saying goodbye to someone you love can be especially painful. Humanists believe we have one life and it ends at death”. This is the kind of militant and irreligious atheism that the Church must engage with in these days of unprecedented spiritual declension; the question is, do we have the stomach for the fight?

Warmest good wishes,

Portrait

And to you :slight_smile:

Dear livnlern,

Fair comment. Clearly it is better that people are engaged in godly religious exercises rather than mind polluting and time consuming worldly amusements and activities. Moreover it is very likely that such people are ‘searching for something more’ and a sense of the numinous and that is to be rightly applauded and encouraged in these troublous times.

However the point I was making was that it is very easy to allow these good devotions to become a substitute for rather than a means to personal holiness. As St. Paul warns us it is possible to `be “…lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God (yet at the same time) holding the form of religion but denying the power of it” (2 Timothy 3: 4-5). Thus even very worldly pleasure obessed Christians frequently cling on to the outward semblance of religion - they fulfill Sunday obligation, say the Rosary, venerate relics et al - yet their lives and concerns only evince that they are strangers to inward personal holiness and a faith that works by love.

Warmest good wishes,

Portrait

I thought I would check some of your other threads Portrait as I enjoyed reading your comments. I grew very impatient with the dissembling I found in the Laurie character under the natural law and homosexuality thread but admired your patience in dealing with him (I thought him to be a her for the longest time.)

While I understand your impatience with the Church in our modern world I wonder how much she (the Church) should devote her time and efforts to combating the swill of the times. David Hart has written a wonderful essay on our times he called "Christ and Nothing." Are you familiar with it or Dr. Hart for that matter?

"We live in an age whose chief moral value has been determined, by overwhelming consensus, to be the absolute liberty of personal volition, the power of each of us to choose what he or she believes, wants, needs, or must possess; our culturally most persuasive models of human freedom are unambiguously voluntarist and, in a rather debased and degraded way, Promethean; the will, we believe, is sovereign because un-premised, free because spontaneous, and this is the highest good. And a society that believes this must, at least implicitly, embrace and subtly advocate a very particular moral metaphysics: the unreality of any “value” higher than choice, or of any transcendent Good ordering desire towards a higher end."

I think the one of the raison d'être of the Church is to celebrate Christ and His world. "In his Commentary on St. John’s Epistle St. Thomas remarks that we can find in Sacred Scripture three different meanings for the term “the world”: first, “the world” as the creation of God, and second, as the creation perfected in Christ; last, as the material perversion of the order of creation. To “the world” in this last-named sense, and to this world only, may one apply the saying of St. John:

“The world is seated in wickedness” (1 John 5:19). It is precisely the claim of St. Thomas that the first meaning of “world” (as creation) may not be identified nor interchanged with the third — (”world” as material perversion of the order of creation); the world as creation is not seated in wickedness.

A single common denominator underlies all these theses. To affirm and accept the reality of creation in all its provinces is the response befitting quite particularly the Christian."

So my response to your question here is No, I don' t think the Church has lost her nerve but would tend to (and prefer to) see her spending her time affirming and accepting the reality of creation as found in the first definition of the world. That's what I see my parish Church doing during the course of the week with little time for anything else.

Better late than never on this reply, I guess.

dj

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